Martin Johnson needs to recall Danny Cipriani to England's line-up if they are going to climb back to the top of the Six Nations. That is the view of the former England No 8 and World Cup winner, Lawrence Dallaglio, who believes the young fly-half could provide the attacking spark they so sorely lacked during their depressing series of autumn internationals which yielded just one win against Argentina and losses to Australia and New Zealand .
Cipriani could make his return to the Wasps first team tomorrow when they take on Bayonne in the Amlin Challenge Cup after two months out because of a fractured fibula. Even before his injury he did not feature in Johnson's plans, yet Dallaglio said England would be foolish to overlook the attacking flair of Cipriani. "He is the kind of player who can add a new dimension," said Dallaglio, a former teammate of Cipriani's at Wasps, where he now serves as board director.
"He gets the ball and you expect things to happen around him, which is exciting. He got injured in his first game at full-back, but he could have offered England an opportunity at full-back. He just needs a bit of consistency in terms of game time." With Jonny Wilkinson successfully back in harness at No 10 after his own injury woes abated, Cipriani's best route back into the national team could be at full-back, the position in which he was initially eased into professional rugby.
Johnson, the team manager, has tried a variety of options at No 15, with mixed results. Ugo Monye, the Harlequins and British & Irish Lions flyer, started the autumn series there, yet only succeeded in proving that wing was his best position. Mark Cueto is currently in possession of the shirt, while Delon Armitage would also have a strong claim to it when he returns from injury. "Danny is getting back to his best," added Dallaglio.
"He has had a plate in his ankle which I can tell you from my own experience is not nice. "That is out now and he is regaining his form and fitness. You need fit players in every position to put pressure on the guys there," added Dallaglio. "You cannot ignore a guy who makes his England debut, scores 19 points against Ireland and is named man of the match, and keeps Jonny Wilkinson on the bench. "There is a challenge for Danny to get back there, but also challenge for the people at England and Wasps to get him back to his best. I'm confident he will."