Former Melbourne Rebels playmaker Danny Cipriani looks set to be left out of England’s squad for the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
The mercurial 27-year-old Sale five-eighth pressed his case for inclusion in a 31-man squad that will be announced by coach Stuart Lancaster on Thursday by coming off the bench to inspire an England rally in a 25-20 defeat by France in Paris last weekend.
However, he was behind George Ford and Owen Farrell in the England pecking order, with Mike Brown and Alex Goode ahead of him in the list of possible England full-backs.
England supporters voted Cipriani — who also scored his side’s first try at the Stade de France on Saturday with an inventive break – their man-of-the-match.
But for all his undoubted skill, it appears Cipriani has not done enough to convince Lancaster, who has not given him a Test start.
Before reports of his omission emerged, Cipriani thanked fans for their backing.
“Can’t tell you how much the support means to me,” Cipriani said on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
“We all go through our journey in life and learn lessons. I know I’ve made mistakes some criticised rightly or wrongly. Just a quick thanks to all the nice messages. Really appreciate it,” he added.
Asked if he was in the squad, Cipriani said: “Won’t find out till this evening/tomorrow morning. Just a message to say thank you for the support.”
If Cipriani has indeed been left out it will mark the latest setback in an England career that has yielded just 14 appearances and four starts since he made his Test debut seven years ago.
The then 20-year-old Cipriani appeared the obvious successor to Jonny Wilkinson when, in only his third Test, he ran the show during England’s 33-10 Six Nations win over Ireland at Twickenham in 2008 — a match where he kicked 18 points but impressed even more in open play.
But injuries stalled his progress, while Cipriani’s frequent appearances on the front pages of national newspapers coming out of nightclubs with his then girlfriend, actress and model Kelly Brook, did not endear him to a staid England management.
Also going against Cipriani was that England have generally tended to favour the control of a ‘kicking’ fly-half to supplement their traditional forward strength, rather than a more adventurous ‘running’ No 10.
In 2010, after a lengthy spell in the international wilderness, he joined the Rebels — a move that precluded a Test recall — before returning to England in 2013 with Premiership side Sale.
Rugby League convert Sam Burgess appears to be involved in a one-on-one battle with Luther Burrell for the role of midfield enforcer in Lancaster’s squad.