Danny Cipriani views his selection in England’s World Cup training squad as the ultimate justification for his decision to return home after a stint with the Melbourne Rebels.
Cipriani has been given the chance to press his claim for a place in the final 31-strong World Cup party head coach Stuart Lancaster will name for the global showpiece, starting with Sunday’s annual fixture against the Barbarians.
The 27-year-old missed the 2011 World Cup after falling out of favour with Martin Johnson and he subsequently departed overseas for a spell in Super Rugby with the Melbourne Rebels before joining Sale.
“Being in this initial World Cup squad is the dream. I’m in the 50 and that’s a start, now it’s down to me to show my worth in the next three months and argue why I should be picked. It’s the same for everyone,” Cipriani said.
“I never lost faith. The reason I came back to England was to try and be a part of this World Cup squad. If I’d lost faith, I’d probably still be in Australia.
“I’ve been through a few England regimes. I loved the Brian Ashton regime because he allowed me to run the side.
“Martin Johnson had a different approach and I was always used a certain way. I could have handled my time then differently though.
“I love being with England at Pennyhill Park now. I’ve known Stuart Lancaster for a long time. He has a great mind.”
Cipriani, who believes he is “two or three years” from his peak and is eyeing a coaching career once he retires as a player, has flourished under the guidance of Jonny Wilkinson’s former mentor Steve Black.
Black’s influence has helped him focus on rugby at the expense of the time spent on the celebrity pages.
“I grew up in the public eye in a different way to a lot of other rugby players because there’s no blueprint on how to behave. You learn that as you go along,” Cipriani said.
“Now I’m old enough to understand how to do things right. Steve Black has been a big part of that. Some players might not have a father about, others do. I needed that direction.
“At Wasps I had it with Shaun Edwards and then for a while I didn’t. Then I found it with Steve Black and he’s been the person who has shown me the reasons why things happen.
“It’s put me in a lot better head space. That’s why I’m so looking forward to the next three months.”