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Page last updated at 20:17 GMT, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 21:17 UK

Johnson defends Cipriani omission

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Johnson explains Cipriani omission

England manager Martin Johnson says his decision to leave Danny Cipriani out of his squad for this summer's series has been made purely on grounds of form.

The 21-year-old Wasps fly-half has been picked for the second-string Saxons squad after a difficult season.

"It's not that Danny has not been playing well, we just feel that others have been playing better and deserve their chance," said Johnson.

"We see a bright future for him but now we've made the call with the Saxons."

In the injury-enforced absence of Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood, uncapped Leicester fly-half Sam Vesty and Brive's Andy Goode have been picked ahead of Cipriani for the senior squad.

Danny Cipriani and England manager Danny Cipriani
Cipriani has not featured for England since the November Tests

Regarded as one of the finest young talents in the sport, Cipriani has endured a troubled season after recovering from a serious ankle injury and looks to be down to fifth in the pecking order for England's number 10 jersey.

Cipriani returned six weeks ahead of schedule after fracturing and dislocating his ankle, and was picked by England for the first three autumn internationals.

But he failed to rediscover his sparkling form of the previous season and ended the series out of the side, before being overlooked for the entire Six Nations campaign.

Wasps finished a disappointing seventh in the Guinness Premiership table and failed to make an impact in the Heineken Cup, while Cipriani also made unwelcome headlines after a training ground bust-up with team-mate Josh Lewsey.

That was followed by reports of Cipriani falling out with the England hierarchy and a recent spat with London Irish veteran Mike Catt did little for his image.

"What you have to deal with in rugby is taking the knockbacks. His club have had a difficult season, he is coming off an injury, he has been picked for England and then left out - but so have any number of players," added Johnson, who is hoping for a positive reaction from Cipriani.

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"It is just a fact of rugby life and how you deal with those is part of you as a professional rugby player.

"You talk to players all the time about where they are and what they do. I have had good conversations with Danny, very frank conversations.

"Danny is 21 years old and he has still got room to develop and improve. There is value in taking him on the Saxons tour. Every time you get together and play with a national team it is a test.

"You are going to be examined and looked at to see how you react and how you play and handle the whole situation. You get a picture of what people are about."

Despite being snubbed by England Cipriani is on stand-by for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, and has delayed an operation to remove a pin from his ankle in order to be available to play this summer.

Cipriani said he was disappointed not to have made the senior squad having returned to something close to his best for Wasps in the closing stages of the season.

"I'm obviously very disappointed to have to go with the Saxons," Cipriani told the Eurosport website.

"It's not what I wanted, but it is still an England team, and I am still available for the Lions if they need a replacement," he added.

"He (Johnson) said the game time would be good for me. I would probably not have played in Argentina so I would get more game time with the Saxons."



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see also
England omit Cipriani from squad
19 May 09 |  English
Jeremy Guscott column
19 May 09 |  English
Cipriani resigned to England snub
17 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Cipriani delays op to remove pin
14 May 09 |  London Wasps
Cipriani eyes injury-free summer
13 May 09 |  London Wasps
Johnson boost for Lions rejects
28 Apr 09 |  English
Cipriani will be back - Edwards
22 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Injured Flood out for six months
06 May 09 |  Leicester
Cipriani back in Lions contention
29 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union
Cipriani signs new Wasps contract
06 Mar 09 |  London Wasps
Cipriani floored in training row
08 Oct 08 |  London Wasps
Cipriani accepts blame for defeat
22 Nov 08 |  English
Cipriani returns to England squad
21 Oct 08 |  English
Comeback display pleases Cipriani
01 Oct 08 |  London Wasps
Cipriani targets October return
31 Aug 08 |  English
Cipriani ruled out for six months
19 May 08 |  English


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