Danny Cipriani needs to keep his head down and be squeaky clean to make the plane to Japan next year according to World Cup winner Jason Robinson.
The Gloucester fly-half was a surprise omission from England’s squad for a recent training camp, the first since Cipriani was fined for common assault and resisting arrest on a pre-season tour of Jersey.
He had started and impressed in England’s last Test on their tour of South Africa in June, but Eddie Jones instead selected George Ford and Owen Farrell as his two fly-half options in the squad for an upcoming training camp ahead of the November internationals.
That comes despite Cipriani making a flying start to the season with new club Gloucester, but Robinson, a try-scorer in the World Cup final back in 2003, has urged the fly-half to knuckle down after missing out.
“Danny Cipriani has been playing well, there’s no doubt about it,” said Robinson, who was speaking as he joined of the UK team selected for the Invictus Games at the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge.
“There’s a lot of competition in that place and some will say he is further up the pecking order than Eddie Jones is saying at the moment. Ultimately Eddie picks the side and he decides who is in and out.
“For him, he has just got to keep his head down, just keep playing the way he is and hopefully that will get him into a spot because the bigger fixture is the World Cup next year.
“England have got some real tough games in the autumn, it’s quite interesting, but the key thing is the autumn internationals and the players just pushing each other for their starting places.
“It will play a big impact. Performances do matter, but it’s also a team game. What you do affects the whole team and that certainly has an influence on it.
“Ford and Farrell have been in those positions for quite a while, so for somebody to take that position you need to be squeaky clean, you need to be seen as a team player and making sure that you don’t ruffle too many feathers.
“There was that incident in Jersey that has not helped Danny but ultimately it’s about the team. There’s always going to be things around selection and who should be picked. Ultimately that does come down to Eddie and who he sees will contribute in that run up to the World Cup.”
Cipriani’s omission coincides with the arrival of John Mitchell as England defence coach, with the pair having previously worked together at Sale, where Robinson spent his club career after switching from league.
And Robinson believes Cipriani has shown enough to indicate he is a valuable alternative in the playmaking role for England, a year out from the World Cup.
“For me Cipriani has proven he is a good player. He is different to the others that are in there and that can be a good thing or not a thing in terms of that continuity,” added Robinson, who is a Land Rover ambassador and addressed the UK team as they look to follow in his footsteps by succeeding Down Under at the Invictus Games in Sydney.
“He won’t be writing everything off, he’s still got an opportunity to push for that [place]. You never know when an injury or two injuries can happen in the run up to the World Cup.
“He has just got to stay focused, keep pushing themselves and hopefully he will get the nod.
“It’s all about the team and finding those combinations and they will have to do it quick because we haven’t been playing as well as we should have been.”
Jaguar Land Rover is the Presenting Partner of the Invictus Games, which takes place in Sydney, Australia from the 20th to 27th of October 2018. Jaguar Land Rover is using this year’s Invictus Games to lead and inform the debate on future mobility, and how its future technology could help people’s lives.