By Ali Stokes
Gloucester-bound fly-half Danny Cipriani is understood to be in line to earn his first start at Test level for a decade this weekend.
Cipriani last started for England during the 2008 Six Nations, making appearances at fly-half, centre and fullback for England as a substitute since. The 30-year-old has struggled to break into England’s starting XV after various troubles both on and off the pitch, attracting headlines for antics in Australian Clubs rather than English rugby arenas.
The former Wasps playmaker made his first Test appearance for three years during England’s defeat in Bloemfontein last weekend, adding notable pace and vigour to England’s attack. In his first touch of the ball after years away from Test rugby, Cipriani sent former clubmate Elliot Daly clean through the South African defence and could have set up a try if Daly had spotted the chance for wing Jonny May to sprint to the corner.
Cipriani has been hailed by England boss Eddie Jones since joining the squad, with the Australian impressed by the former Melbourne Rebels fly-half’s work ethic and attitude.
"Both Danny (Cipriani) and George (Ford) have got great attributes," Jones said. "We're just assessing who is going to be the best player for this weekend."
"Danny is back because of his consistency of effort. I've just been impressed by his diligence and his desire to be part of the team," Jones added.
"He's got fitter. He's understanding that there's a role to play in the team and he can play it."
Ford is expected to be dropped from the starting line up in Cape Town this weekend after starting all but three of England’s games under Jones.
Jones will also be forced into two changes to the side that took to the field last Saturday, with brothers Mako and Billy Vunipola flying home to England last weekend for family and injury reasons.
Harlequins prop Joe Marler and Wasps number eight Nathan Hughes are expected to be promoted to the starting lineup, with Alec Hepburn and one of Sam Simmonds, Chris Robshaw, Gary Graham or Ben Earl taking up bench spots.
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