Danny Cipriani was hard done by when Eddie Jones announced his England squad yesterday. Danny is playing well for Wasps at the minute, and his form should have been rewarded with a place in the extended squad at the very least.
Although Danny might not be Wasps’ primary goal kicker, he’s definitely not the second choice player Eddie Jones was referring to. I thought this was a strange comment to make after Jones selected Alex Lozowski in the squad.
Although he has been superb for Saracens this season, he is deputising for the injured Owen Farrell. There might be some underlying factors, or even an attempt to cap Lozowski before he might want to link up with Italy.
England have played their best rugby under Jones with George Ford at 10, and Danny would be a direct replacement for him should anything happen. Both are creative attacking players, and I feel Danny couldn’t have done anymore to get picked.
Saying that, Lozowski is a brilliant attacking player with an ability to beat players one-on-one, his try against Exeter demonstrated this, but there are question marks hanging over the fitness of Farrell.
For me, you need to play three games to prove your fitness; this leaves Owen with little opportunity to find the requisite game time ahead of the November internationals.
You must also bear in mind that there is no bigger physical test in world rugby than playing the Springboks, consequently Owen will need every second he can get on the field between now and then.
If he isn’t fit, then we might see Henry Slade selected at 12. Although this might make for a very attractive looking backline, it could also leave England short defensively. For me, though, the prospect of seeing Ford, Slade and Jonathan Joseph link up to release our wide men would be worth the admission price alone.
While Danny might be a surprise exclusion, Ben Morgan’s inclusion might seem a little strange. Although it’s good to see him back in, Ben hasn’t been setting the world alight for Gloucester.
Sam Jones on the other hand has been picked on merit. His performances for Wasps have been fantastic. He carries the ball with intent, wins turnovers and is part of the reason they have been playing so well.
I don’t see where the outcry for the inclusion of Matt Kvesic is coming from. Yeah, he wins turnovers, but he also gives away a lot of penalties. Apart from the fact that he hasn’t stood out for Gloucester this season, Matt isn’t the biggest ball carrier either.
Tom Youngs hasn’t been firing on all cylinders this season and has been left out as a result. Given the amount of quality hookers now at Jones’ disposal, you have to be playing well. Jamie George is playing out of his skin with Saracens, likewise Tommy Taylor at Wasps, while Luke Cowan-Dickie is scoring tries for fun with the Chiefs.
Tom’s international career is far from over though, he just needs to string some games together and find some form with the Tigers.
Andy Goode, Pundit Arena