Eddie Jones has confirmed that the selection of flyhalf Danny Cipriani for the third Test against the Springboks was made with England’s kicking strategy in mind. JON CARDINELLI reports from Cape Town.
On Thursday, Jones announced his match 23 for the final game of the series. With wet weather expected at Newlands on Saturday, and perhaps with a few South African selections in mind, the England coach has backed Cipriani to start ahead of regular flyhalf George Ford.
England went into the previous two Tests against the Boks with several strong tactical kickers in scrumhalf Ben Youngs, centres Owen Farrell and Henry Slade, and fullback Elliot Daly. Jones feels that the left boot of Cipriani, however, will make a world of difference to the tourists’ kicking game in the third Test.
‘I feel that this game will revolve a lot around kicking,’ Jones said when addressing the media from the team’s hotel in Newlands on Thursday.
‘We’ll have a No 10 [Cipriani] who is a left-footed kicking option, a 12 [Farrell] who is right-footed and a 13 [Slade] who is left-footed. There’s a lot of variety there. It’s going to be a tight game and we’re going to have to take the opportunities that we might have missed in previous games.’
Jones reiterated that Cipriani, who has not started a Test since 2008, may be a stronger option for this particular game. Ford, who was the first-choice No 10 during England’s great run of success in 2016 and 2017, has dropped out of the 23.
‘It’s a hard call on George, he’s an important player for us. He does a lot of work behind the scenes and he’s done some good things on the field.
‘We just feel that Danny has impressed us on this tour. He’s worked really hard and he deserves this opportunity. We feel that this is the right game to give him a chance.’
Meanwhile, Bok coach Rassie Erasmus has made some interesting changes of his own. In the context of the kicking game, incoming flyhalf Elton Jantjies and fullback Warrick Gelant will have plenty to prove. Handré Pollard and Willie le Roux will be on the bench this week.
On a wet night at Newlands, England’s kickers should look to target Gelant and his inexperienced back-three partners Aphiwe Dyantyi and S’bu Nkosi. The likes of Mike Brown and Jonny May will look to pressure the Bok wings and fullback in the air via a strong kick-chase.
England are looking to break a five-Test losing streak. On Thursday, Jones played down suggestions that his side is a spent force. That said, he feels that England have a lot to play for this Saturday despite the fact that the Boks have already won the series.
Meanwhile, Erasmus has made those aforementioned selections with the future in mind. The game at Newlands should give the Bok coach some answers with regards to the abilities of certain players in pressure situations.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 21, 2018
Photo: Kieran Galvin/Getty Images