Tuesday 23 January 2018

'This is no kindergarten class' - Eddie Jones calls on English players to prove themselves

Duncan Bech

Eddie Jones has ordered Danny Cipriani to let his rugby do the talking if he wants to reclaim his England place amid a warning to all players that Test rugby is not a "kindergarten class".

Cipriani has rejected an approach from Toulon in favour of joining Wasps next season in the hope of adding to his 14 caps, knowing that Rugby Football Union policy prevents players based overseas from being picked by the Red Rose.

The 28-year-old Sale fly-half has a newspaper column in which he has offered his views on England's RBS 6 Nations matches against Scotland and Italy, but Jones wants to see him prove himself on the pitch.

"Danny needs to play well, there's no use talking to the press about it. You've got to play well, play like a Test player, dominate club rugby and show all the skills of a Test player," the head coach said.

"You can't talk to the media about being a Test player, you've got to prove it. He's not good enough to be in the squad at the moment.

"We have two outstanding 10s in Owen Farrell and George Ford. To beat those two, Danny has a long way to go, but he's a capable player. It's a matter of how hard he wants to work at his game."

Jones insists that anyone aspiring to play for England must seize the initiative and not expect to be shepherded in a particular direction.

"It's up to the players. If they want to play Test rugby, they have to work out what they have to do," Jones said.

"This isn't a kindergarten class. If you want to play Test rugby, you have to work hard to do it yourself. We'll give them all the guidance they need, but they've got to do it."

England are spending the week in Kensington rather than their Surrey training base in order to give players a change of scenery, but Jones was emphatic in his response when asked if the move was also to keep the players interested.

"They have to keep me interested. I don't have to keep them interested. Why should I keep them interested? They want to play for England. They should keep me interested," he said.

"Their game has to be so outstanding that I am saying: 'goodness me, I've got to get that guy in the squad'.

"If they are not doing that, they're not doing that, they're not doing enough to get into England."

Cipriani's quest to be reinstated as England's playmaker-in-chief is blocked by Ford and Farrell, who have started the wins against Scotland and Italy at fly-half and inside centre and have been given strong backing by Jones.

"George is 22, but he looks 15. He looks young. He's 22 and has played 19 Tests now," Jones said.

"He's just marking his crease now, finding his feet. He'll be at his best when he's 25 or 26.

"He's got talent, an exceptional pass, good vision and a good kicking game.

"The consistency of a Test 10 is not going to come at 23, it's going to come later down the track.

"And Owen's got a great Test future. He's either going to be the starting 12 or the starting 10. He's going to be a talisman for England.

"He's a strong leader, he's a good defender, he plays with his heart on his sleeve and he's got a good skills-set. You can't ask for more than that."

Press Association

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