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Eddie Jones claims Danny Cipriani has been over-hyped – and says the search continues for the player to bring the X-factor to his World Cup squad.
Jones was in Newcastle where in a year’s time England face Italy in the last of four warm-up Tests ahead of the tournament in Japan.
The talk of the Toon was his support for Chris Ashton, despite the winger, who is serving a ban, being unable to begin his Sale career until after England’s training squad is named.
By contrast the Australian offered a decidedly cool endorsement of Cipriani’s man-of-the-match start for Gloucester a fortnight on from the fly-half’s assault conviction.
Jones pledged to judge Cipriani purely on his rugby when it comes to selection for England’s four autumn internationals.
“We never close the door on anyone,” he said. “Whether Danny has an England future is down to how well he plays.”
But any relief that brought the player was offset by Jones’ lukewarm response to his Cherry and Whites’ debut which featured a try-assist that Lawrence Dallaglio hailed as “absolutely unbelievable”.
“Let’s get it into context,” countered Jones. “It was a good pass but there were plenty of good passes at the weekend.
“I saw George Ford throw a superb pass, but his team got beaten so no-one reports on that. I saw Owen Farrell throw three or four superb passes, but no-one reports on that.
“Just because one player throws one big pass, it doesn’t mean he has a great game. I was at the game and maybe the reports don’t match the game.”
It may simply be that Jones, who met Cipriani in Gloucester on Monday, considers tough love the best way to keep him grounded.
Then again, when asked how many of his 31-man World Cup squad he had identified he replied: “30 and a half. We are still waiting for that X-factor player to come through.
“Look, everything impacts on selection,” added Jones, who also had a dig at Cipriani for not ironing the jeans he wore to his disciplinary hearing.
“We will make a decision on whether Danny’s going to add value to the team. If a guy gets in trouble all the time, you’ve got to have second thoughts about it.”
Ashton, with his hat-trick of bans, falls into that category yet Jones, who will soon have Scott Wisemantel and John Mitchell in place as attack and defence coach, appears won over.
“Ashton was fantastic in camp and he’s desperate to play for England,” said the coach. “They’re the sort of players we need.”
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