Melbourne Rebels flyhalf Danny Cipriani is hopeful that the work he has done on his dodgy defensive game will translate into a call-up for England in the Six Nations next year, even if it does clash with Super Rugby.
Cipriani cemented his reputation as a party boy and a weak tackler in his debut Super Rugby season this year when he found himself stood down from the team after a number of off-field controversies in the Melbourne side's introductory season in the competition.
When he did take the field Cipriani battled to come to grips with the big ball-carriers he was faced with week-in and week-out, but despite this deficiency in his game he still managed to impress at times with his tactical kicking and eye for a gap.
The mercurial Englishman is aware that he is not yet the complete article at pivot and has been working hard with former Wallabies defensive coach John Muggleton at the Rebels who has been adjusting his technique in the tackle.
Cipriani told AAP: "I am making sure I get myself in the right positions and getting my footwork right."
He is hopeful that these changes will stand him in good stead when he takes on the Wallabies as part of a strong Barbarians side this weekend at Twickenham which will be a great opportunity for him to make a positive impression on whoever takes over from Martin Johnson as England manager.
He has a clause in his contract with the Rebels allowing him to be released for the Six Nations between February 4 and March 17, and inclusion in that squad will be a signficant first step on his long term plan to star for England at flyhalf on home soil in the next World Cup.
"I have a long term goal in 2015 to be in that squad (for the World Cup), to be first choice 10 and to be back here [England] in the short term and obviously play well this season," Cipriani said.
It would be a remarkable comeback if he were to move past Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood in the pecking order and make the England No.10 jersey his own early next year and at this stage it seems quite a long shot but a strong performance against the Barbarians certainly would not do his chances any harm.
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