Eddie Jones bluntly told the media that Danny Cipriani isn’t currently in the England squad “because he’s not good enough to be.”
Cipriani’s many admirers may disagree with the new England Head Coach, who is settling into his role after two wins over Scotland and Italy, but as Jones points out George Ford and Owen Farrell, both younger than Cipriani, are currently leading the way when it comes to England’s stock of number tens.
“What does [Cipriani] have to do? He has to play well,” Jones told reporters at Pennyhill Park on Wednesday.
“There’s no point him talking to the press about it.
“To be in this team you have to play like a Test player – you have to dominate in club rugby and show all the skills of an international.
“He’s not in the squad at the moment because he’s not good enough to be in it.
“We have outstanding number tens in George Ford and Owen Farrell and while he’s a capable player, he has a long way to go to beat those two.
“George is 22 and looks 15: he’s just marking his crease and finding his feet.
“He’s an exceptional talent, but he’ll be at his best at 25 or 26.
“He’s a master player in progress.
“When you look back to Jonny Wilkinson, he made his first start for England at 18 and got beat 76-0 [by Australia in 1998].
“If you’d watched him in that game, you’d never have picked him again.
“You can look at Daniel Carter too.
“He was at his absolute best at 30, when he had all the experience and patience and knowledge.”
Looking at those players who are in the squad Jones is pleased by the progress he’s seen in terms of the fitness of his Test match 23.
“The strength and conditioning staff are doing a good job and the players’ application has been outstanding; they’re training harder than they ever have and I reckon the fitness level of the Test 23 is up 30 per cent on the other people in the squad,” Jones added.
“By the end of the Six Nations, we’ll have a side that’s really ready to go.
“But it’s up to the players.
“We’ll give them all the guidance they need, but they’re the ones who have to do it.”
Next for England is the visit to Twickenham on February 27 of back-to-back champions Ireland, coming off a one-point defeat to France in Paris.
Jones explained his views on Joe Schmidt’s side, and their effective aerial approach in terms of tactics.
“Ireland are a clever side.
“They’re one of the best-coached sides in world rugby, full stop.
“They’re very resourceful.
“They’ve chosen to go in this direction in terms of their style of play and they’ve won the last two Six Nations titles doing it.
“Who am I to criticise them?”