New Zealand v England, 3rd Test
Cipriani a better player for England tour
Tom Hamilton in Christchurch
June 17, 2014
Danny Cipriani was fantastic against the Crusaders © Getty Images

England fly-half Danny Cipriani is adamant the team are going in the right direction with a World Cup just one year way but is not taking his place in the squad for granted despite an impressive performance against the Crusaders on Tuesday evening.

Cipriani played an integral role in England's comfortable 38-7 win in Christchurch and with Owen Farrell out of Saturday's Test, England will be looking for a new replacement fly-half with Freddie Burns in line to start. Cipriani looks to be the favourite for a role in Hamilton and is keen to finish the tour with some more Test action despite playing on Tuesday evening.

Blooming Cipriani shines in Christchurch

  • The front cover of Tuesday's edition of The Press said: "England wear the red rose on their jersey but roses don't bloom during a Canterbury winter". Unfortunately for the locals, an England win was never in doubt from about the second minute when Joe Gray bundled over.
  • But this was always going to be more than just a meaningless midweek match.
  • England labelled it the "fourth Test" while for the Christchurch locals, it gave them a chance to see an international side in action after a catastrophic February 2011 earthquake robbed them of playing a part in the World Cup.
  • The result is sometimes immaterial in these situations and though the Crusaders were heavy underdogs, they put up a spirited fight. The last time England played a club side in Christchurch was back in 1973, the tourists losing 17-13. A good number of that Canterbury side played in the Test a week later but these days things are slightly different. Even though the Crusaders were bereft of 10 All Blacks, they still left their mark on England.
  • Read the full verdict here

"I think everyone in that squad tonight would play Friday to Saturday, I don't think that's an issue," Cipriani said. "I think everyone wants to pull the red rose and play for England. Coming into this culture, it's been amazing to just enjoy myself and I've been proud to where an England shirt, that's what everyone's been doing.

"It's part of England's DNA and I think everybody, even if they've played 80 minutes tonight, would be up for playing Saturday."

For Cipriani, he has been in the England camp since the start of the trip. He has benefitted from working closely with Andy Farrell and Mike Catt and believes he has improved as a player over the past six weeks.

"On a personal level, I've learnt an awful lot from fax and Catty and Stuart as well. With my game and I thought I played with a confidence tonight that I can learn from.

"The confidence is what the coaches are instilling in us and that's put me in good stead for next season and to have a big preseason. That's the short-term goal of everyone in that squad is to try to get into the Saturday team but everyone in the squad is going to come away from this tour knowing that they've learnt a lot and improved as a player, which I certainly feel like I have."

England will name their squad for Saturday's game on Thursday and while Cipriani hopes to be involved he believes he is one of many to have impressed the England management.

"It's up to the coaches to make their decision. I think a lot of boys played really well tonight and put their hand up. The whole point was to make sure we put in a good performance that everybody could be proud of and give the whole squad a lift with a few big hits and a few great tries."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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