DANNY CIPRIANI is aiming to establish himself as England’s pre-eminent fly-half when a decade-long quest to reclaim his starting place ends on Saturday.
Cipriani has ousted George Ford as chief conductor for the climax to this month’s tour of South Africa at Newlands a week after making his first appearance under Eddie Jones as a replacement in Bloemfontein.
I want to be in this England team for as long as I possibly can. I’ve been in and out of it for a while.Danny Cipriani
Lengthy spells in the international wilderness have interrupted a career that has tried the patience of former England coaches Martin Johnson and Stuart Lancaster before this season’s irrepressible form for Wasps finally persuaded Jones he can no longer be ignored.
Now charged with directing the end of the nation’s five-Test losing run and inspired by the teachings of stoic philosophy, Cipriani intends using his 16th cap as the platform to prove he can be relied upon to pull the springs.
“I want to be in this England team for as long as I possibly can,” the Gloucester-bound playmaker said.
“I’ve been in and out of it for a while. A lot of it is my own doing and sometimes it was down to different personalities, but I persevered and made sure I have done everything I can do to get back to the squad. I find a way.
“My emotions are that I want to be the calmest guy on the field so that when international pressures come on, people can turn to me and understand that I’m thorough in what I’m doing.”
Six years ago Cipriani spent a season at Melbourne Rebels in order to escape the celebrity spotlight that pursued the early stage of a career that to date is characterised by international under-achievement.
“As you get older you appreciate things more. When I was 20 everything just happened. It was like Premiership start, Heineken Cup start…cool,” he said.
“Then I played for England. Everything just rolled off. It was almost like that was how it was going to be.
“When I broke my ankle it was like, ‘ah things aren’t going to go great’. But I thought I was going come back and things were going to be sweet.
“Then international rugby happened at the end of that year and it didn’t quite go to plan. That’s when I just got an onslaught.
Cipriani’s inclusion is one of four changes.
Chris Robshaw returns at blindside flanker after Brad Shields was ruled out because of illness, while Joe Marler starts at loosehead prop and Nathan Hughes at No 8. Marler and Hughes profit after Mako and Billy Vunipola returned home for respective family and injury reasons.