Cipriani over Burns for Ashton

Date published: June 5 2014

Former England coach Brian Ashton labels the selection of Freddie Burns over Danny Cipriani a “risk” ahead of the clash with New Zealand.

Former England coach Brian Ashton has labelled the selection of Freddie Burns over Danny Cipriani a “risk” ahead of the clash with New Zealand.

Burns has been picked ahead of Cipriani for the game despite having a tough year in club colours at Gloucester, while Cipriani shone with Sale.

That has led to Ashton to hint that familiarity has been sided with over form as he hailed Cipriani for how he has played since the turn of the year.

“If it was being picked solely on recent form, say post-Christmas, I don't think anyone would dispute that Danny has been playing more regularly and consistently better than Freddie,” the 2007 World Cup coach told the Telegraph.

“It seems to me what Stuart Lancaster has developed over the past two or three seasons is a really strong squad ethic and a great belief in understanding all the systems and structures that go within that. I think the fact that Freddie Burns has been around for the past two seasons, as part and parcel of that, it may well be that he and the other coaches feel that he deserves first shot in New Zealand.

“It is very easy to speculate from the outside, but I think want they have tried to do is to be very consistent about things like this. As an outsider I would go with Cipriani over Burns.”

He added: “Looking from the outside there is an element of risk because he [Burns] has not been playing a lot of club rugby and has certainly not been playing a lot of good club rugby.”

“But to balance that out, Stuart has always said he takes a lot of notice of what players do in training. If they are happy with what he has been doing, then they will hope he will translate that to the playing field. It is not what you would call an easy game to ease yourself back into.

“Danny has been playing in a side that has developed over the year and has bounced back tremendously well from the previous season. Playing in a team that has been successful always helps when you play in a 10 shirt and he has started to rediscover the form he showed some time ago. He has tightened up defensively. Sale have no issues at all with him there and the other areas of his game, I've always felt, are up to international standard.

“Freddie is always capable of doing something that is a little bit off the cuff and a little bit unusual as well, a bit like Danny. They are more individualistic than some of the other 10s in the Premiership and the key for both of them is to make sure they can show that they can retain that individuality – and are allowed to – while embracing the team ethos.”