Eddie Jones defended his right to be “contradictory” after naming Danny Cipriani in his England squad for the tour of South Africa next month.
Cipriani has not represented his country since August 2015, but a series of fine performances for Wasps in the Premiership this season earned the fly-half a call up.
Jones said in September 2016 that there was little point in choosing Cipriani as a back-up option, but the Australian has seemingly changed his stance and backed the 30-year-old to prove he is worthy of a starting berth.
“Life is full of contradictions and three games ago I was the best thing that ever happened to English rugby and now I am the worst thing that ever happened to English rugby,” Jones said.
“You media guys are allowed to be contradictory and so I’m allowed. He can add value to the squad at this stage.
“Danny has not had a recall – I have never picked him so I have for the first time. I have watched him very closely and he deserves an opportunity and has done things I have asked him to do in games.
“He has to prove he is the best number 10 in the squad or number 15. We wouldn’t have picked him if we didn’t think so.”
“The youngsters have a chance to show they can handle the toughness of a Test match series in South Africa.”
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) May 10, 2018
Jones also defended the decision to select Hurricanes captain Brad Shields.
The flanker, who qualifies for England through his parents, was granted a release from his New Zealand Rugby (NZR) contract in order to play.
NZR were critical of the Rugby Football Union’s decision to pursue a release, and said it was making a “special exception” despite having “clear legal grounds” to deny Shields’ request.
“Brad Shields is a good hard working player who plays for the best team in the Southern Hemisphere,” Jones added.
“He is a considerable influence in that team. A hard working, gritty player and a good back up to Chris Robshaw. My responsibility is to pick England qualified players – I don’t decide the regulations.”
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