London - Danny Cipriani is expected to be named in an England squad for the first time in six years on Thursday as coach Stuart Lancaster has decided the mercurial Sale flyhalf is no longer a risk to his team's esprit de corps.
Cipriani won all seven of his caps under Brian Ashton in 2008 - having been dropped from what would have been his debut against Scotland after being seen outside a nightclub days before a match.
His career then stalled and after he left Wasps for an ill-starred spell in Australia he has been involved in a series of off-field incidents - including being run over by a bus.
His dip in form allied to the troublesome baggage ensured he had no chance of winning over Lancaster, who has consistently stressed the importance on role-model behaviour since taking over from Martin Johnson following the 2011 World Cup.
However, now 26, Cipriani seems more settled and enjoyed an impressive season for Sale, who he helped to a sixth-place finish in the Premiership a year after they were almost relegated.
“I judge players on their form for their club. Reputation and what they've done in the past counts for something, but not everything,” said Lancaster, who will confirm his squad on Thursday.
“Danny's definitely improved and Sale have played well. He has controlled the games really well. I'm pleased with what he's done and he's in the equation.”
Cipriani faces a tough battle to force himself into contention for the three-test tour of New Zealand but could well feature in England's non-cap match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on June 1.
“Flyhalf is such a pivotal position in the team,” said Lancaster. “Players like Freddie Burns, Stephen Myler, Owen Farrell and George Ford are already up to speed with our gameplan and plays. Danny would have to get up to speed with all of that and then deliver at international level in terms of execution.
“That's the challenge for players coming into an international side.”
Cipriani is expected to be among around 20 players named from the six clubs no longer involved in play-off or European cup final action.
The squad will be finalised after those matches, with around 40 expected to travel to New Zealand.
However, none of those involved in the Premiership final on May 31 will be eligible for the first test in Auckland on June 7. A final featuring Harlequins and Northampton would potentially deprive Lancaster of eight first-choice players, including captain Chris Robshaw and next-in-line Tom Wood. – Reuters