WILL CARLING revealed last night he has scrapped plans to manage Danny Cipriani because he believes the Wasps fly-half is not passionate enough about playing for England.
Carling, who captained England to three Grand Slams during the 1990s, wanted to help Cipriani get his international career “back on track”.
But, after spending the last six weeks talking to Cipriani, Carling has concluded the 22-year-old’s desire to reclaim the England number 10 jersey “is not as strong as it needs to be”.
“The reason the whole concept appealed to me was that I believed here was a guy with a special talent, who desperately wanted to play for England, and maybe I could help him work things through with Wasps and England, as I know the key personnel in both camps.
“I have spent the last six weeks trying to focus Danny and, without laying the blame at anyone’s door, the main reason that I have decided not to go ahead is that I do not believe that Danny’s focus is on playing for England.
“That and that alone was my main motivation for getting involved with him. It is not about money and certainly not about profile, it was about helping him earn the England number 10 shirt.
“And, rightly or wrongly, I have concluded that his desire to earn that shirt is not as strong as I want it to be and as strong as it needs to be.”
Carling consulted England manager Martin Johnson, Wasps head coach Shaun Edwards and former internationals Josh Lewsey and Matt Dawson during the process.
Johnson told Carling that, despite speculation of a fall-out, he had not written Cipriani off.
The consensus of opinion Carling gathered was Cipriani is a “great talent” but with an “ability to alienate team-mates”.
Carling wrote: “I sincerely hope that it is not a talent that is never fulfilled in an England shirt but I worry that might be the case and I just hope that sometime soon Danny focuses on England and the hard work that will be necessary to earn his place in the team.”
Meanwhile Johnson has revealed England are preparing to take Italy on at their own game after he announced a forward-dominated bench for tomorrow’s Six Nations meeting at the Stadio Flaminio.
England have named a full replacement front row of Steve Thompson, David Wilson and the uncapped Worcester loose-head Matt Mullan for the first time since Johnson took charge 18 months ago.
“We have picked an entire front row, which is the right call for this game. We know what we are getting into,” said Johnson.
“We have done a 5-2 split before with two back rowers but never three front-row forwards.
“With the way we are going to play, the front row is going to have to work very hard so it’s good we have the depth.
“Whilst we don’t want to go into a game that is solely about close-quarter work, that is a part of it. We shouldn’t be afraid of our driving game and it should be a part of our armoury.”
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