Eddie Jones has refused to close the door on Danny Cipriani’s England career after the fly-half found himself in trouble off the pitch once again.
Cipriani, who made a first start for his country in a decade in South Africa this summer, was fined £2000 after admitting charges of common assault and resisting arrest during his club Gloucester’s pre-season tour of Jersey, and was later also sanctioned by the Rugby Football Union.
England head coach Jones has warned after recalling him to the international stage that “there’s always a plane back from Johannesburg”, but the half-back’s latest off-field misdemeanour does not appear to have fatally damaged his chances.
Jones said: “We never close the door on anyone. Everyone makes mistakes. He was very contrite afterwards, realised he’s done the wrong thing and we move on from that now.
“I think it’s been dealt with. He was punished by his club, punished by whatever happened with the RFU. He’s now back playing and we’ll look at him in terms of how well he plays.
“In South Africa, he worked well and again at the August camp, he worked well and if he gets an opportunity at the September camp, he’ll have another opportunity to work well.”
Sale winger Chris Ashton could also make that training camp even though he cannot play for seven weeks after being banned following his red card for a tip tackle in a pre-season friendly against Castres.
The latest disciplinary ban came just weeks after he was recalled to the England set-up four years since his last appearance and effectively ended his hopes of featuring in the autumn internationals.
Asked if he was concerned by the suspension, Jones said: “I think you’re always concerned when players are not playing. Getting selected is about playing and showing that you can play well for England.
“But having seen the incident, I thought it was a difficult situation. We want him to come back and we want him to play well, so I’m just looking forward to him playing well for Sale.
“I’ve only had Ashton for three days and he was absolutely fantastic, a good, hard worker. Everything that people told me about him was true. I couldn’t have been more pleased with him at the camp.”
Whether Cipriani and Ashton can still make the World Cup squad for Japan remains to be seen, but Jones admits he cannot control what players do outside the England camp.
He said: “They’re playing for their clubs – I can’t control what they do with their clubs.”
Jones’ comments came as he held a press conference at St James’ Park in Newcastle, where his side will play a warm-up test against Italy on September 6 next year before they head off to the Far East.
He was on Tyneside as news of an approach to buy a controlling stake in Premiership rugby emerged, although he was not unduly concerned about any possible impact on England.
He said: “It has no bearing on what I do, so the only thing I do is read it with interest and that’s about it.”