Rugby Union

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus surprised by Danny Cipriani’s England omission

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus is surprised by Eddie Jones’ decision to omit Danny Cipriani from England’s squad for the autumn internationals.

South Africa will be the first of four teams to face England live on Sky Sports at Twickenham in November, with Jones looking to hone his squad ahead of next year’s World Cup in Japan.

Cipriani forced his way back into the England reckoning earlier this year, but the fly-half was left out of the latest squad despite having made an impressive start to the season for Gloucester.

Jones has insisted Cipriani’s omission was down to form rather than a pre-season incident that saw the playmaker fined £2,000 after pleading guilty to assault and resisting arrest on Gloucester’s tour of Jersey, but Erasmus finds that hard to believe.

“Just because he’s a great talent, I was surprised he’s not involved,” said Erasmus.

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“But in terms of the way Eddie (Jones) is building his squad, he has his ducks in a row in terms of who is his second and third choice and how he mixes and matches them.

“It would be foolish for me to comment on selection, not being in their camp. I just know Danny is a talented player and has certainly got a bag full of tricks.”

Cipriani is currently serving a three-week ban following a red card for a high tackle in Gloucester’s 36-22 Champions Cup loss at Munster, but will be free to return to action on November 16.

England’s number 10 jersey is likely to be filled by Owen Farrell, and Erasmus, whose side came out on top of a series between the two teams in South Africa this summer, is wary of the threat he will pose.

Asked if it will be easier to prepare his Springboks to face an England team missing Cipriani, Erasmus said: “No, I think that would be a stupid statement for me to make.

“Farrell can do it and there are so many guys in the English team that can make something out of nothing.

“It’s difficult to prepare against him (Cipriani) but I wouldn’t say England are going to be easier to prepare for without him.”

Another threat Erasmus is preparing South Africa to deal with is that of centre Manu Tuilagi, who is finally fit to start for England.

Tuilagi has not featured in Test action since March 2016 and his last international start came in New Zealand in June 2014, as a host of injuries have ravaged his career.

“I coached Muster and we played against him – he’s definitely a threat,” said Erasmus.

“He brings aggression, directness, physicality and intimidation into the England team.

“Most of our players are used to playing against guys like that in Super Rugby. You have to handle it on the day. It will be a challenge.”

After South Africa, England host New Zealand, Japan and Australia over consecutive weekends at Twickenham.

#Followtherose this autumn with all of England’s Tests live on Sky Sports throughout November. The action starts on Saturday 3 November against South Africa before clashes against New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

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