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Dublin: 8 °C Sunday 31 May, 2020

Danny Cipriani given first England start in 10 years as Jones hopes to avoid seventh straight loss

The mercurial talent was just 21 the last time he started a Test for England.

Cipriani shoots at goal against the 'Boks in 2008.
Cipriani shoots at goal against the 'Boks in 2008.

IT’S APPROACHING FIVE months since England last tasted victory, but Eddie Jones has us talking about a different gap today as he handed out-half Danny Cipriani a first Test start in 10 years.

With the series in South Africa lost thanks to England’s fifth consecutive Test defeat (six matches overall including defeat to the Barbarians), the mercurial talent takes a starting role for the first time since the Springboks’ visit to Twickenham in November 2008.

Now 30, Cipriani has stints with Sale and the Melbourne Rebels behind him and has hit impressive form since returning to Wasps two years ago. He ended a three-year gap between caps as a replacement last week and next season he will guide Munster’s Champions Cup pool rivals Gloucester.

With Owen Farrell and Henry Slade at centre, George Ford drops out of the matchday 23 with Jones picking six forwards and two backs for his replacements bench.

“We are expecting a wet and windy old day at Newlands and have elected to play Danny Cipriani ahead of George Ford to give us a left-foot kicking option,” Jones explained today.

England Training and Press Conference - Pennyhill Park Source: Adam Davy

As for the pressure he is facing with a team – who came so close to sealing back-to-back Grand Slams – now looking down the barrel of a seventh loss on the bounce, the Australian continued to put a steely smile front and centre this week.

“These are the periods you look forward to where everyone thinks you’re done and you have to find a way to win.

I’m enjoying it, loving it, absolutely loving it. Every job is the same: when you are doing well, everyone pats you on the back. When you are not doing well you’re pulling knives out of your back. That’s the reality of it.

“When everything is running well, it’s easy. You’ve got your team humming, you’re winning games you shouldn’t. You get 50-50 decisions, everyone’s available, you don’t have any injuries. The hard parts are when you’ve got injuries, you’re not getting 50-50 decisions and there’s noise around. That’s where you find your worth and you find which players in your team can really stand up to pressure.”

Jones will hope Cipriani falls into that category in the Cape Town Test, but also the uncapped Exeter Chiefs lock Jonny Hill who joins the replacements with Brad Shields injured.

A fractured arm ended Billy Vunipola’s tour last week, paving the way for Nathan Hughes to start at number eight with former captain Chris Robshaw recalled to the team as blindside.

England (3rd Test v South Africa): Elliot Daly; Jonny May, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell (capt), Mike Brown; Danny Cipriani, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Joe Launchbury, Maro Itoje, Chris Robshaw, Tom Curry, Nathan Hughes.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Alec Hepburn, Harry Williams, Jonny Hill, Mark Wilson, Sam Simmonds, Ben Spencer, Denny Solomona.

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Sean Farrell

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