England recall Cipriani, pick Shields for South Africa tour
LONDON (AP) Flyhalf Danny Cipriani was recalled after three years and flanker Brad Shields picked after New Zealand Rugby released him for England’s tour of South Africa next month.
The last of Cipriani’s 14 caps was in the build-up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Coach Eddie Jones had misgivings over his attitude in a team environment but changed his mind on Thursday and said he was also an option at fullback.
”I’ve watched him closely and he’s looking good,” Jones said. ”He deserves his opportunity. He’s done a few things I’ve asked him to do.”
New Zealand-born Shields, captain of the Hurricanes in Super Rugby, was one of seven uncapped players in the 34-man squad.
Shields was contracted to the end of August but was granted a ”special exemption” reluctantly by New Zealand Rugby on Thursday to play for England next month. He was eligible through England-born parents. Shields is heading to Wasps next season.
”He’s a hard-working, gritty player, he’s a great backup to Chris Robshaw for us,” Jones said of Shields.
But asked why he had to pick a player not playing in England or hasn’t come through the English system, Jones deflected.
”That’s not my responsibility,” Jones said. ”My responsibility is to play England-qualified players. So I get a list of England-qualified players and I pick the best. I don’t decide the regulations.”
The other newcomers were Saracens back-rower Ben Earl and scrumhalf Ben Spencer, Wasps scrumhalf Dan Robson and back-rower Jack Willis, Exeter lock Jonny Hill, and 18-year-old Sale back Cameron Redpath, the son of former Scotland captain Bryan Redpath.
Dylan Hartley missed out on the three-test tour because of concussion so flyhalf Owen Farrell was named captain.
Danny Care, Dan Cole, James Haskell and Richard Wigglesworth have been rested, while the likes of Courtney Lawes, George Kruis, Nathan Hughes, Sam Underhill, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph and Jack Nowell were injured or in recovery.
Jones opted against resting any of his British and Irish Lions: Farrell, Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola were included, and Billy Vunipola will play for the first time since the 2017 Six Nations after recovering from a broken arm.
”We have an opportunity to create some history next month and win the test series, something no England side has done before,” Jones said. ”With three weeks to prepare for the first test in Johannesburg I am expecting players to come into camp with the right mindset.
”We will be looking for them to break the mold in terms of being more assertive and on the front foot in everything we do.
”We will need to be physically aggressive and tactically smart against the Springboks, who we know will be combative and reinvigorated by their new coaching setup.”
Scott Wisemantel, an Australian who was recently the backs coach working under Jake White at Montpellier, will join England for the tour as an attack consultant.
England faces the Springboks in tests in Johannesburg on June 9, Bloemfontein on June 16, and Cape Town on June 23.
England: Mike Brown, Elliot Daly, Nathan Earle, Jonny May, Denny Solomona, Danny Cipriani, Owen Farrell (captain), George Ford, Alex Lozowski, Cameron Redpath, Dan Robson, Henry Slade, Ben Spencer, Ben Te’o, Ben Youngs, Tom Curry, Ben Earl, Jonny Hill, Nick Isiekwe, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Chris Robshaw, Brad Shields, Sam Simmonds, Billy Vunipola, Jack Willis, Mark Wilson, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, Mako Vunipola, Harry Williams.