Woodward wants England recall for Cipriani
ESPN Staff
November 1, 2013
Clive Woodward wants Danny Cipriani at fly-half for England © PA Photos

World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward wants Danny Cipriani at fly-half for England.

England kick-off their three-Test autumn series against Australia on Saturday and Stuart Lancaster has already spoken of it being a "defining year" for the country with the World Cup just under two years away. He has opted for Owen Farrell at fly-half but Woodward, who steered England to World Cup glory in 2003, prefers Cipriani at No.10.

The Sale Sharks fly-half has started the current campaign in good form after an indifferent 2012-13 season but is seemingly low down the pecking order for Lancaster. Cipriani won the last of his eight caps in 2008 and Woodward wants him back at fly-half for the national side.

"At fly-half, Owen Farrell is an exceptionally talented player and George Ford has great potential, but Danny Cipriani is the only England player who has got me on the edge of my seat in the past decade," Woodward wrote in the Daily Mail. "He has that X factor in abundance -- pace, skills, an unpredictable edge and the ability to make things happen. He is England's answer to Quade Cooper, yet he started the season in Sale's reserves.

"Cipriani clearly got lost somewhere along the way and he needs a lot of help, but he could fit in seamlessly to that gold-medal backline. He needs a strong personality as a coach, but often the best talents do. Cipriani comes with baggage but dealing with that is your job as a coach. He needs one more chance because he is our best chance."

Elsewhere in his back line, Woodward would have Ben Youngs at scrum-half, who is on the bench against Australia, and Manu Tuilagi and Jonny May in his centres. On the wings, Woodward would opt for Marland Yarde and Christian Wade with Anthony Watson a surprise choice at fullback.

Woodward said of the young Bath No.15: "I saw him play at The Rec in appalling conditions and he is superstar material - the type of talent to get 80,000 Twickenham supporters on their feet.

"Watching him toil in the rain in a local derby last week against Gloucester, I could just imagine dropping him into an all-singing, all-dancing back division. He has more natural sprint speed than Jason Robinson and the ability to beat the first man with fast footwork and a dancing step.

"In two years' time he could be unstoppable. If you coach him in a way that gives him licence to set the pace at which the team is going to play, I believe he has the rare gift of being able to raise the game of those around him - like Robinson used to. It comes down not only to quick feet but a quick brain, scanning the defence and pouncing."

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