Wasps flyhalf Danny Cipriani is back in the England team after three years. Photo: Action Images/Andrew Boyers
Wasps flyhalf Danny Cipriani is back in the England team after three years. Photo: Action Images/Andrew Boyers
England coach Clive Woodward, holding the William Webb Ellis trophy, accompanies the 2003 Rugby World Cup squad as they arrive in Trafalgar Square at the end of their parade through the capital to mark the team's victory, in London. Photo: REUTERS/David Rogers
England coach Clive Woodward, holding the William Webb Ellis trophy, accompanies the 2003 Rugby World Cup squad as they arrive in Trafalgar Square at the end of their parade through the capital to mark the team's victory, in London. Photo: REUTERS/David Rogers

Sir Clive Woodward coached England to the country's only Rugby World Cup victory in 2003 in Australia.

LONDON - Well done to Eddie Jones for grasping the nettle, making some big calls and shaking the squad up after their disappointing Six Nations campaign.

It was much needed, and the influx of ambition and in some cases experience and nous will freshen things up for a tricky tour against a South Africa side who will be more formidable than in recent years.

The headline selection is obviously Danny Cipriani, whose inclusion I have been advocating since before the 2015 World Cup. I’ve been a huge fan since I saw him play as a schoolboy with my son, Joe, and nothing has dented my faith in him as a player. He has his critics but, over the last four years, all I have seen at Sale and Wasps is that he has honed his skillset and upped his defensive work considerably. 

READ MORE: Cipriani will be sent home from England tour if he's 'a bad character'

He must start in all three Tests. There is no value in doing what England did in New Zealand in 2014 when Cipriani was given virtually no game time off the bench in the Tests and had to make do with a solitary start against Canterbury, when he produced a man-of-the-match performance.

The point in taking Cipriani is to see, if at the age of 30 and at the height of his powers, he can get England’s back line buzzing. One of the many things I like about his game is his ability to operate on limited possession. Neither Sale nor Wasps have boasted dominating packs in recent seasons but Cipriani performs really well under that pressure. 

His combination with Owen Farrell at 12 could be exceptional and that alone adds edge to this team. England know this summer is the last chance to experiment before preparations for next year’s World Cup begin in earnest.It will be interesting to see if Jones pairs him with Wasps scrum-half Dan Robson, who has also been overdue a call-up. 

Elsewhere, I don’t agree with the pick of Brad Shields. He is a fine player, England-qualified, but I’m not happy with him being dragged out of a Super Rugby season to tour. England should turn to homegrown players first. Shields and others in his position need to spend time in the English game first to establish their credentials and loyalties.

Shields has faced the Springboks once before, duringa Test with the Barbarians in 2016. Photo: Reuters / Paul Childs
Shields has faced the Springboks once before, during a Test with the Barbarians in 2016. Photo: Reuters / Paul Childs

Catapulting him straight into the Test team would send out a bad message and at least the presence of three specialist blindsides — Chris Robshaw, Mark Wilson and young Jack Willis — would suggest there will be a genuine battle for selection.

Of the uncapped players, Cameron Redpath is the real bolter. He is from great stock with dad Bryan — the ex-Scotland scrum-half — being one of the very best in his position from his generation. He has been a stellar England age-group international and I do hope that he is not just seen as an apprentice in South Africa.

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