Gloucester fly-half Danny Cipriani and former England captain Dylan Hartley have told of their desperation to have been called up to head coach Eddie Jones’ 31-man Rugby World Cup squad last month, with both having been omitted from the final selection.

Cipriani, 31, who was named Premiership player of the year and RPA players’ player of the year last season, failed to do enough to convince Jones to select him for the World Cup in Japan, with Saracen’s Owen Farrell and Leicester Tigers’ George Ford preferred at fly-half instead.

“Going into a big competition I would’ve had to turn water into wine to really sway him,” said Cipriani.

When asked if he had a fair chance to prove himself for World Cup selection, Cipriani said: “What is a fair crack of the whip? I can’t go in there demanding any time.

“Eddie is in a high-pressure situation being England coach and he has done a great job.

“He has put his faith in George Ford and Owen Farrell and they have done well for him.

“I can completely understand why he made his decision. Do I think it was the right decision? I don’t know. I am going to support England and hope they do great.”

Cipriani was included in numerous pre-World Cup England training squads but last played for his country in June 2018 when he was influential in a test match win over South Africa.

Northampton Saints hooker Hartley described his World Cup omission as feeling as if he had “almost died.”

“When the World Cup squad was announced, it was almost like I’d died — friends getting in touch and seeing if I was OK,” he said.

“For four years we have talked about winning the World Cup with Eddie, and I have led that group, been a part of that journey, so to fall at the final hurdle… I don’t know the feeling.

“I wake up most nights thinking about it. It doesn’t sit well with me, but I have come to terms with it. You have to crack on.”

Hooker Hartley, 33, led England to back-to-back Six Nations triumphs in 2016-17 but has not played since suffering a knee injury while representing club side Northampton against Worcester in December.

“If there’s a platform to show my support for getting rid of artificial pitches, it’s here… I don’t think you need them.”

“I’d played the fortnight before and tweaked my knee in a game, then I played on an artificial pitch the following week and probably playing on an injury didn’t help.”

The 33-year-old hooker, who has 97 international caps, last appeared for England in an emphatic win over Australia in November, a month prior to the injury.



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