Mike Brown: Danny Cipriani is the best English player of my generation

MIKE BROWN: We need entertainers like Danny Cipriani more than ever… he is the best English player of my generation and he should have well over 50 caps by now

  • Danny Cipriani was mistreated by England and unfairly picked on by coaches 
  • Senior members of the squad felt threatened by Danny and froze him out 
  • Cipriani, Owen Farrell and George Ford could have played together for England
  • Cipriani left Gloucester on Tuesday after two seasons to seek new challenges 

I hope Danny Cipriani doesn’t stay out of the game for too long because the sport needs entertainers like him more than ever. He’s still got a good few years left at the top.

I first met Danny about 10 years ago. In terms of natural ability, he is the best English player of my generation. Running ability, skills, kicking, opening up defences… he has it all. 

It’s a shame that we haven’t seen the best of him in an England shirt. He’s scraped together 16 caps but he should have well over 50 by now.

Danny Cipriani should have won far more than 16 England caps during an impressive career

My dealings with Danny have always been positive. We did sprint training together with Margot Wells and trained together with England, on the handful of occasions he was selected.

We were together on the tour of South Africa in 2018 and I was pretty disappointed at how he was treated. He kept his head down, trained hard and did everything asked of him. 

He played well when he got his opportunity in the final Test, but I felt like he was fighting a losing battle.

Sometimes there would be little meetings with the playmakers and Danny, despite being a No 10, was left out. He should have been involved in those kind of conversations. 

It felt like there were key members of the squad threatened by Danny so they never fully brought him in.

If I were in that position and trying to put my best foot forward, I’d feel a bit unwanted. 

Danny was ostracised with England and was unjustly singled out for criticism during training

Sometimes it felt like his errors were picked up in training where others weren’t. He’d get a bit of a roasting.

It feels to me that, over the years, England have missed the opportunity to form a world-class play-making dynamic between Cipriani, George Ford and Owen Farrell.

If you’ve got someone who can change a game, even if it’s off the bench or out of position, you’ve got to do everything you can to get them in.

England could have taken the opportunity to play Cipriani with Owen Farrell and George Ford

Look at how the Chicago Bulls coach managed Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and whoever else. They let guys be themselves and made it work.

Rugby has been quite old-fashioned. You have to act a certain way, although that’s gradually starting to change with guys like Ellis Genge, Joe Marler and Ben Obano feeling comfortable enough to openly show their characters and be themselves.

Danny made mistakes and was seen on the celebrity circuit, but he’s a thoughtful, articulate and intelligent guy.

The likes of Joe Marler and Ellis Genge have won fans due to their humour in interviews

If I’ve had a low moment in the game, he’s always messaged me offering support. Plenty of other team-mates I’ve had haven’t done that.

I spoke to Danny during the week. He left Gloucester on good terms. Now he’s just going to relax for a bit and enjoy time with his family, then see what new challenges are out there. If he gets a good opportunity, he’ll take it and if he doesn’t, he’ll leave it.

He’s been on the scene since he was a 17-year-old and has been playing pretty much non-stop. It’s been a tough year for him. His close friend died by suicide and he had his own personal battles in the summer. 

Cipriani left Gloucester on Tuesday to pursue new challenges after 41 games with the club

All those things add up. Maybe he just needs a bit of a refocus, rediscover his love for the game, then look for a new challenge.

His personal life is his own business but he seems like he’s in a good place. I just hope we see him back on a pitch, sooner rather than later. Whoever snaps him up will be laughing.

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