Guinness Premiership
Cipriani eyes England No.10 shirt
September 1, 2009

Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani has set his sights on reclaiming the England No.10 jersey this season.

The headline-grabbing 21-year-old has had a three-inch metal plate removed from his right ankle and is running pain-free for the first time since suffering a gruesome injury in May last year.

On his return to the domestic stage he struggled to find his best form until the latter stages of the season and as a result missed out on selection for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa and England's two-Test series with Argentina.

Instead he was demoted to the England Saxons for their Churchill Cup campaign in the United States and last month he was dropped from the Elite Player Squad in favour of Jonny Wilkinson. But Cipriani, who began last season as England's first choice fly-half, is determined to re-stake his claim ahead of November's international clashes with Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.

"They have picked Jonny for their reasons and now it is down me to go out there and do the best I can to make sure I am selected," said Cipriani. "I had the operation on July 1 and the fact it felt so much better afterwards was a big deal. I didn't have the same kind of pain in my Achilles and that made a big difference.

"My form was coming back at the end of last season. I was enjoying my rugby and with the ankle being pain free, it is off my mind and allows me to just go out and play. I love playing for England and that is what my ambition has been since I was 10 or 11 years old."

Cipriani recovered from the injury ahead of schedule and was rushed straight back into the England side last November after just a handful of games for Wasps. But he failed to impress and has since seen Andy Goode, Toby Flood and Sam Vesty leapfrog him in the pecking order while Northampton's Stephen Myler played for the Saxons in the Churchill Cup final.

"I don't think I came back too quickly. Perhaps before playing for England I would have liked to have a bit more game-time but I don't think anyone would have turned that opportunity down," Cipriani added. "It didn't go as well as I would have liked it to. It was a challenge for me to rediscover my form and move forward from it.

"I had to have the plate in for the whole season because it was holding the bone together. This was the quickest point I could have had it out. My form was coming back at the end of last season and that was a confidence boost for me, knowing I had come through it all.

"Now I have had a good six weeks of pre-season, which is important and which I didn't get last year, and I am looking forward to the start of the new season."

Cipriani is set to spearhead a new look Wasps backline featuring new recruits Tom Varndell and David Lemi in their season opener against Harlequins at Twickenham on Saturday and is confident of a strong showing.

"With everything going on here, with the signings we have made and the new coaches, there is such a good buzz," said Cipriani, who signed a new one-year deal last season. "If Wasps are doing well you often see many players from Wasps getting selected for England.

"That is the situation with Tom Varndell. He is such a good athlete and the fact he hasn't played much for England and scored 100 tries already is a shame. But with Shaun (Edwards) here he will move forward and it is the same for me."


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