Trust in the judgement of Eddie Jones - that’s Red Roses legend Danielle Waterman’s message to England fans frustrated by Danny Cipriani’s omission from England’s World Cup squad.
The Gloucester fly-half failed to make the final 31-man party selected by Jones for the tournament in Japan despite having been named in the official World Cup training squad.
And having won the Premiership Player of the Year award for his stellar performances for his club last season, the 31-year-old’s absence was considered one of the most contentious decisions.
But while Women’s Rugby World Cup winner Waterman was disappointed not to see Cipriani included, she believes Jones knows best when it comes to what he wants from his players.
“I think it’s a shame someone as skilful and as talented as Danny Cipriani isn’t in the squad, but it’s not just about individual talent, it’s about how a player fits within the squad,” she said.
“It’s how they fit within the team whenever they are looking at different opposition and we haven’t seen Danny perform in the last couple of seasons in an England shirt.
“We’ve seen other players do that and that’s how Eddie wants his team to play, so I think the English public have been crying out for someone like Danny Cipriani.
“He’s been playing so well in club rugby, but that doesn’t always translate into an England shirt and Eddie Jones has clearly got a vision to how he wants to play.
“It’s been played well over the past few games but whether that translates into the World Cup that is now down to the players and how they perform when the tournament gets underway.”
Waterman was speaking at the Guinness National Rugby Awards, which were created in 2015 and celebrate the best of rugby from grassroots to the very pinnacle of the game.
The awards, hosted at Twickenham Stadium, recognise clubs, players, coaches, volunteers, mini sections, supporters and many more people that make rugby the fabulous game it is.
Waterman continued: “I think England are in a good place, I wouldn’t say that they are World Cup ready, which is why they are playing the warm-up games – and anything can happen in the World Cup.
“I’ve been in plenty of tournaments like that where it’s not just about how you perform in game one, it’s how you recover and how you rotate the squad throughout.
“The fact that Eddie has selected a squad that is as diverse as it is allows a lot of rotation and allows players to rest and recover to make sure they can be fit in the latter stages.”
England will face Italy in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up match on Friday (September 6) before flying out to Japan, where they will face Tonga in their opening game.
The 2003 world champions thrashed Ireland 57-15 in their last warm-up game, having already played two tough games against Grand Slam winners Wales home and away.
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And while Waterman is cautious about reading too much into England’s performances in the warm-up games, she is confident they are in good shape to go far in the tournament.
“I think what is really pleasing is how fit and strong England are, how well they are playing as a collective, how the units are playing together and Ireland were really disappointing,” she said.
“Ireland were really disappointing in terms of their set-piece, their technical detail, some of their decision making from a tactical and defensive perspective wasn’t good enough.
“England were able to capitalise on that and actually that shows the strength of the side, no matter which player is playing in that shirt and they will be chomping at the bit to get on that plane.”
The Guinness National Rugby Awards recognises the outstanding work done by coaches, players and supporters across the country. There is no other event which brings together the clubs and players from all the leagues in England, from grassroots to elite. www.nationalrugbyawards.co.uk