Cipriani urged to study American Football by Callard
January 5, 2009
Danny Cipriani had two kicks charged down against Harlequins on Sunday © Getty Images
The solution to Danny Cipriani's charge-down woes could lie with a study of American Football according to England kicking coach Jon Callard.
Cipriani saw two of his clearances blocked during Wasps' win over Harlequins at Adams Park on Sunday, and Ruan Pienaar's charged-down try for South Africa at Twickenham last month is still fresh in the memory for many.
"When you receive the ball on the back foot and under severe pressure, you need to have a snap and then to get the ball away within one pace, like they do in American Football," said Callard. "Some players like two or three steps to get into their kicking stride. If your confidence is sapped somewhat and you are struggling for a good connection, you would probably like to have a little bit more time on the ball to make a good contact. That could be an issue at the moment.
"The problems he had with England during the November internationals were partly because we were on the back foot and partly the time on the ball. It can be rectified. It is something I would certainly like to work with Danny on sorting out."
In his seven England Tests so far, Cipriani has seen three charged-down tries scored off his kicking, a trend that has been labelled "a real issue" by Wasps Head Coach Shaun Edwards. Edwards was critical of the three steps required by Cipriani before clearing, a facet of his play that allowed Quins fly-half Nick Evans to block one of his kicks yesterday, leading to a penalty try for his side at the ensuing scrum.
Callard believes that Cipriani's confidence has been rocked not only by his disappointing form during the autumn internationals, but also his fractured dislocation of his right ankle suffered in May last year.
"From my dealings with Danny during the autumn internationals, he did exceptionally well to get back from that ankle injury and that will have an impact on his kicking. It is a fact," Callard said. "The joint needs time to warm up, he needs to get it fluid so he can get the sort of flexibility required for his plant foot."
Cipriani currently works on his kicking privately with Dave Alred, and will not be available to Callard until the England squad next convenes.
Edwards is beginning to lose patience with the charge-downs suffered by Wasps this season, with not only Cipriani but also Eoin Reddan and Riki Flutey conceding tries against Leinster. "Charge-downs have been a nightmare for us this season," said Edwards. "It is a real issue. We have had so many. Against Leinster two or three of the tries came directly from charge-downs. Things are happening too slowly from the kicker and he is also not kicking the ball high enough."