Danny Cipriani ready to stake England claim in New Zealand

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live
Danny Cipriani gets second England chance from Stuart Lancaster

Danny Cipriani says he is more focused than ever as he bids to win his first England cap in six years.

The Sale stand-off is one of two fly-halves named in the initial England squad for the tour of New Zealand.

But the 26-year-old believes the hard work starts now ahead of the first Test in Auckland on 7 June.

"It's great pulling on the training jersey for the first time, but that lasted for 10 seconds before I realised there is a job to do," Cipriani said.

With Owen Farrell, George Ford and Stephen Myler all unavailable for the first part of the tour, Cipriani will compete with Freddie Burns to wear the number 10 shirt, with both likely to feature in the match-day 23.

Burns is the favourite to start the Test because of his recent involvement in the England setup, but Cipriani is relishing the challenge.

"I've put myself in a position to be here, on form. But now it's for me to kick on and drive forward. I obviously want to be involved in the Tests and pit myself against the best in the world," he said.

"It's an exciting time, but the best thing about it is that it's challenging. Whether I'm on or off the field it's a challenge. I like to rise to that and I'm excited for it. This is the top of international rugby."

Cipriani won the last of his seven England caps in 2008, and says much has changed in the England camp since that point.

"From the second part of my England stint, it's definitely different in terms of the culture. The confidence and composure the coaches give rubs off on the squad. Everyone is comfortable with each other, but it's a testing environment."

And the former London Wasps back says this competition for places is clearly in evidence when it comes to the fly-halves.

"Owen Farrell has been fantastic for England, George Ford and Stephen Myler have been great for their clubs." he explained

"The country has five possible fly-halves in a position to put their hands up. It's a chance for me and Freddie to do that."

Following an inconsistent first season at Sale, during which he was struck by a bus on an end-of-season night out, Cipriani has worked closely with Jonny Wilkinson's long-time mentor Steve Black over the course of the last year

Danny Cipriani and Jonny Wilkinson
Cipriani talks tactics with replacement centre Jonny Wilkinson against Ireland in the 2008 Six Nations

He cites this relationship as a key reason behind his improved form and his recall to the England set-up.

"I work with Steve Black on my personal journal. I add to it three or four times a week and it's been for about 350 days. You look back and see your development and what you have improved on," he added.

"I've been extremely focused this year and Steve's really helped with that. I think that's all part of the learning curve and developing as a person.

"I want to make sure, in a month's time, I come away as a better player and I feel this is just the beginning of my development as a complete fly-half."

Hear from Danny Cipriani, as well as a preview of the Premiership and Pro 12 finals on 5live Rugby, Tuesday evening from 2130 (BST).