LONDON - Eddie Jones brought Danny Cipriani back from international exile on Thursday with a stark warning that if he proves to be a "bad character", he won’t last long in the England set-up.
The national coach confirmed his re-think about the 30-year-old Wasps playmaker by rewarding his outstanding form with a place in the 34-man squad for next month’s tour of South Africa.
Cipriani, who last won a cap in August 2015, has been presented with an opportunity to revive his Test career — providing he fits in and makes a good impression.
In the past, Jones has hinted at misgivings about the fly-half’s ability to do just that, but his stance has shifted in the face of overwhelming evidence about Cipriani’s credentials as a game-changer.
The Australian said: "I’m convinced there is something he can offer because he’s made changes to his game and his character will come through. If he’s a good character, he could be in the team for a long time. If he’s a bad character there’s always a plane back from Johannesburg."
Asked if he was concerned about the notion of "baggage" in relation to Cipriani, he added: "The baggage doesn’t worry me. It’s how he behaves. I can’t control what he’s done in the past.
"All I can do is control what he does in the future. It’s about how he comes in, how he reacts, how he communicates with other players, how he responds to coaching and how he understands the way we want to play and fit into that mould.
"We have to give him flexibility to display his talent. He’s got a creative talent and we don’t want to annul that, but he has to understand that there is a team and he has to play within that team."
In recent weeks, Cipriani has been acclaimed as the best No 10 in the country, but Jones may consider him in another position. "He could play 15," he said. "I’ve seen him play 15 well as a younger guy and there’s no reason he couldn’t do that now."