STUART Lancaster has dangled the carrot of World Cup training camp selection in front of Danny Cipriani in a bid to stop the Sale stand-off moving to France.
Head coach Lancaster has revealed he will take four fly-halves into his summer training squad ahead of England hosting the World Cup in the autumn.
The England boss has recalled Cipriani for a 34-man Six Nations training squad, rejecting suggestions this is his final chance at Test level.
Nick Easter is back in an England squad for the first time since 2011, to offset Ben Morgan’s broken leg, while Sam Burgess is among the second-string Saxons.
“I don’t see where this last chance idea has come from,” said Lancaster of Cipriani, who was eyeing a move to Toulon in the summer if overlooked.
“We brought him into the New Zealand tour last summer. He was on the bench in the first Test, he played in the Crusaders game and he was involved in the third Test.
“We’ve got a whole Six Nations period to go and the World Cup camp to go.
“I see Danny being around for hopefully the next three to four years.
“Selection will come down ultimately not to previous reputation or what people have done in the past, it’s what they do every week for their clubs.
“That’s how we select, on what we see. Danny will be in the mix like everyone else.” The England squad will convene at their Pennyhill Park base on Monday before opening their Six Nations campaign in Wales on Friday, 6 February.
Lancaster will not whittle down his 34-man squad until he selects the 23 to face Wales on Wednesday, 4 February.
The facility to hedge his bets, especially at stand-off, allows Lancaster to make longer-term Test overtures to Cipriani in a bid to stop him moving to Toulon. England maintain their staunch policy of only selecting overseas-based players in “exceptional circumstances”, but Lancaster is yet to invoke that all-encompassing clause.
Easter is back in an England squad for the first time since declaring “that’s £35,000 down the toilet”, referring to lost bonuses after the disappointing 2011 World Cup exit.
Lancaster will take 45 players to his World Cup training camp in June, with Cipriani now in line to be among the four fly-halves selected.
The England boss believes both Cipriani and Easter can still force their way into his selection thoughts for the Six Nations opener in Cardiff.
“There’s a pecking order that’s in existence if you like, but all things are open really,” said Lancaster. “Stephen [Myler] and Danny both have opportunities to come in and prove they should be number one. We’re very open-minded about the whole thing.
“There’s four scrum-halves there we all trust, and we’ll take four in the World Cup camp.”
Lancaster admitted Harlequins boss Conor O’Shea had championed 47-cap Easter’s recall, with the 36-year-old in sparkling club form.
“It was a conversation I had initially with Quins and Conor,” said Lancaster. “He speaks highly of Nick and the impact he’s been making over the last two years.
“For me obviously it was a phone call initially and then a meeting. I met him one to one and we had a good chat, and we’ll take it from there. Particularly with Ben Morgan’s injury we needed another specialist No 8. I thought Billy Vunipola was outstanding for Saracens at the weekend, his best game for a long time. He deserves his opportunity to prove he can replicate his outstanding form at international level.”
Bath’s league convert Burgess will line up for the Saxons as expected in their Friday, 30 January clash against Ireland Wolfhounds in Cork.
Lancaster has chosen to replace injured Manu Tuilagi with Bath’s Jonathan Joseph and bring Graham Kitchener in for Courtney Lawes.
England will hope Tuilagi can beat his groin problem to feature during the tournament, with Lawes battling ankle trouble too.
England Senior Training squad
Forwards: D Attwood (Bath), C Clark (Northampton), D Cole (Leicester), A Corbisiero (Northampton), N Easter (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton), J Haskell (Wasps), G Kitchener (Leicester), G Kruis (Saracens), J Marler (Harlequins), G Parling (Leicester), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Vunipola, M Vunipola (both Saracens), D Wilson (Bath), T Wood (Northampton), T Youngs (Leicester).
Backs: B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins), L Burrell (Northampton), D Care (Harlequins), D Cipriani (Sale), K Eastmond (Bath), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Bath), A Goode (Saracens), J Joseph (Bath), J May (Gloucester,), S Myler (Northampton), J Nowell (Exeter), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester), A Watson (Bath), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), B Youngs (Leicester).
England Saxons squad:
Forwards: K Brookes (Newcastle), T Croft (Leicester), C Day (Northampton), L Cowan-Dickie, D Ewers (both Exeter), M Garvey (Bath), R Harrison (Sale), M Itoje (Saracens), M Kvesic (Gloucester), M Mullan (Wasps), H Thomas (Bath), T Waldrom (Exeter), A Waller (Northampton), R Webber (Bath).
Backs: C Ashton (Saracens), S Burgess (Bath), E Daly (Wasps), O Devoto (Bath), L Dickson (Northampton, capt), J Simpson (Wasps), H Slade (Exeter), M Yarde (Harlequins), C Wade (Wasps).