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Video - Easter & Cipriani England Rugby Six Nations 2015


By Will Sportsbeat
January 21 2015

ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster insists both Danny Cipriani and Nick Easter can force their way into contention for a starring role in this year’s Six Nations after the pair were recalled to the senior training squad.     Cipriani, who was overlooked by Lancaster for the autumn internationals last year, is one of four fly-halves named by Lancaster with George Ford, Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler also included.   A long-term injury to No.8 Ben Morgan meanwhile has paved the way for Easter to earn a first call-up under Lancaster since he took charge back in 2012.

 

And the return to fitness of British & Irish Lions Mako Vunipola, Alex Corbisiero, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole and Geoff Parling adds a serious amount of strength and experience to the squad.   The inclusions of Cipriani and Easter may have been the most fascinating considering their previous omissions, but Lancaster insists the pair have a fresh opportunity to force his hand ahead of the opening Six Nations fixture with Wales.

“Danny hasn’t been far away at all,” said Lancaster. “He came on the New Zealand tour, came into camp in August and obviously when it came down to that squad selection for the autumn internationals we felt Stephen [Myler] had the edge on him.    “But since then he has improved his game, he’s worked hard and we want to create the opportunity for him and Stephen to come in together.

“There is obviously a pecking order from the autumn, our last game was against Australia and George [Ford] played really well, Owen has returned to his club and played well but we are open to anything.   “I can see Danny being around for hopefully the next two, three, four years and so the battle will continue as to who gets that shirt.

“It will come down, ultimately, not to previous reputation or what people have done in the past, but to who is performing week in, week out for their clubs and that is how we will judge it.   “And with Nick, particularly with Ben Morgan’s injury, there is a need for specialist No.8s in your squad. I thought Billy Vunipola was outstanding at the weekend, he had one of his best games for a long time.   “But we need two specialist No.8s and Nick, to be fair, has been outstanding. He deserves the opportunity to come in and prove he can replicate that back at international level.”

The vast majority of Lancaster’s squad will be in European action at the weekend as the European Rugby Champions Cup pool stage draws to a close.   But once he gets his players together early next week, Lancaster insists it is vital they waste no time in preparing for what will be an incredibly important Six Nations tournament.

“We’ve got two big games just around the corner with the Saxons taking on the Irish Wolfhounds and the senior side in Wales,” he added.    “It was a great weekend in Europe for our English clubs, I thought the top teams really turned up and delivered so clearly we have a lot of players in good form.     “But we have got to get them together and get them into England mode and get that preparation and detail right going into that Wales game.   “You can focus your attention on that, you can’t control the Grand Slam, you can’t control the World Cup, but what you can control is your preparation and that is what we have to get right.”

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