Danny Cipriani to make first England start for a decade

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Danny Cipriani will make his first England start for a decade after being selected at fly-half for Saturday’s third and final Test against South Africa.

Cipriani has ousted George Ford after playing 13 minutes as a second-half replacement for his rival in the series-conceding 23-12 defeat in Bloemfontein last weekend.

The tour to South Africa is his first appearance in an England squad under Eddie Jones and the Gloucester-bound playmaker has now impressed enough to be elevated into the starting XV.

It is only the third time Ford has been dropped since Jones took over in late 2015 and he is omitted from the 23 altogether.

“We are expecting a wet and windy old day at Newlands and have elected to play Danny Cipriani ahead of George Ford to give us a left-foot kicking option,” Jones said.

“We will need to jump out of the blocks quickly again and make sure we maintain that pressure and make good decisions.

“We’ve had a really upbeat training week. We are up for the battle and are going to rip in on Saturday. We want another committed performance where it will be crucial to maintain our composure when the heat is on.

“I’ve been really impressed with the fortitude of the squad under Owen Farrell, who is a young captain, and with a number of young players who have really stuck to the task.”

Danny Cipriani will be moving to Gloucester next season
Danny Cipriani will be moving to Gloucester next season (Adam Davy/PA)

Chris Robshaw returns at blindside flanker after Brad Shields was ruled out of the climax to the series because of illness, while Joe Marler starts at loosehead prop and Nathan Hughes at number eight.

Marler and Hughes profit after Mako and Billy Vunipola returned home for respective family and injury reasons.

Shields’ absence was unexpected – England had hidden news of his illness – but Cipriani’s return began to materialise earlier in the week after he lined up at fly-half in training.

Jones previously held doubts over the 30-year-old’s capacity to be a disruptive influence in a team environment.

Accustomed to being first choice fly-half, it was also felt that he is ill-suited to the role of supporting Ford and Farrell – to date Jones’ preferred choices in the positions – but his application on tour has won over his head coach.

He has accumulated 15 caps with last Saturday’s appearance his first for three years and his return to favour comes following a superb season at Wasps.

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