England in New Zealand 2014
Cipriani - 'I have to rise to the challenge'
May 28, 2014
'It's great pulling on the training jersey for the first time, but that lasted for 10 seconds before I realised there is a job to do' © Getty Images
When Stuart Lancaster announced his squad for the New Zealand tour, one name was guaranteed to make all the headlines - Danny Cipriani. His recall after almost six years in the wilderness had been expected given England's availability problems, but that did not lessen the interest.
Since his last appearance for England in November 2008, Cipriani's life has been anything but uneventful and he has too often made headlines for things outside rugby. But a excellent and trouble-free season for Sale has again brought him into the reckoning.
"I've put myself in a position to be here, on form," he said. "But now it's for me to kick on and drive forward. I obviously want to be involved in the Tests and pit myself against the best in the world.
"It's an exciting time, but the best thing about it is that it's challenging. Whether I'm on or off the field it's a challenge. I like to rise to that and I'm excited for it. This is the top of international rugby."
He said that much had changed from the last time he was involved with the England set-up. "It's definitely different in terms of the culture. The confidence and composure the coaches give rubs off on the squad. Everyone is comfortable with each other, but it's a testing environment."
Cipriani said his work with Steve Black - Jonny Wilkinson's long-time mentor - has been a key part of his return to form. "I work with Steve on my personal journal. I add to it three or four times a week and it's been for about 350 days. You look back and see your development and what you have improved on.
"I've been extremely focused this year and Steve's really helped with that. I think that's all part of the learning curve and developing as a person.
"I want to make sure in a month's time I come away as a better player, and I feel this is just the beginning of my development as a complete fly-half."
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