Should Ashton drop Jonny?

With Danny Cipriani in the England squad, the number 10 shirt appears to be more than a one-horse race.

Jonny Wilkinson has been the undisputed bearer over the past few years (except when he was injured, obviously) and few can question his place amongst the best players of all time.

But Wasps fly-half Cipriani has been grabbing the limelight recently, leading some people to conclude that Stuart Barnes and Dewi Morris are actually his parents, so deep is their love for him.

Brian Ashton has a big decision to make in the next couple of weeks.  Is Jonny really too old at 28?  Is Danny ready to step into the breach? What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Should Ashton drop Jonny?

  1. Watching the Rugby Club recently, I’ve been trying to figure out if Barnes has either finally had one pork chop too many and gone a little bit mad, or if he’s actually just doing his job as a pundit and journalist by stating the controversial to sell papers. To say Jonny should be dropped in favour of Cipriani, as he has, is like saying the Queen should abdicate.

    What’s also worrying is that Barnes himself noted that Cirpiani had a magical 1st half against Clemont Auvergne, but then had a shocker in the 2nd half, highlighting his lack of experience. Clemont came back to within 7 points, and the game was not closed out as it should have been half an hour earlier. Such a lack of tightness and maturity would be even more brutally exposed on the international stage.

    So my opinion is that King Sir Lord Jonny should retain his place, not just because he apparently has such an inspiring effect on the rest of the team, but because he is still the most consistent performer in the 10 spot. Cipriani should be introduced after 50/60mins of games to build up his experience, and be given the opportunity to run at tired defences and exploit the gaps that we know he can.

    Cipriani is very promising…but to fulfill that promise he still has a way to go. There would be no better mentor for Danny than Jonny, so let the youngster push Jonny to greater heights by fighting for his place, and let Jonny drag Danny with him.

    Furthermore, having Cipriani on the bench would mean there would be cover at 10 / 15 / and if necessary in the other back positions.

    No, Ashton should not drop Jonny.

  2. Ashton should not drop Jonny…for now. For England to gather momentum and get on a roll, they need to start winning consistently and then they can start grafting some fancy touches on to their game. And there is nobody in the world better at the art of winning rugby matches than Wilko.

    My reservation about Wilkinson is that, while everyone seems to raise their game when he’s around, he doesn’t necessarily spark a backline as well as some of his rivals, including Cipriani. Newcastle have got some electric backs but suddenly they are winning games purely because of Jonny’s boot rather than through the exuberant running of Flood, Tait et al. There’s a worry that teams become over-reliant on his kicking and, in terms of creativity, go into their shells.

    That’s why I think Cipriani should be eased in with a few bench appearances but soon he’ll be making an unanswerable case and at that stage I would like to see Cipriani and Wilkinson in tandem. Cipriani would have absolute freedom to run the game from the gain line without the pressure of goal-kicking etc, and Jonny can be the calm head coaxing the best out of those around him.

    I also agree with Justin that it will be excellent to see 2 players (one great, one currently very good with potential to be great) pushing each other to new heights.

  3. I still think an experiment of Cipriani at 10 and Jonny at 12 may be worth a look. They both mix it up at their respective clubs with Flutey/Flood and apart from electric gas, Jonny has all the attributes to be a good inside centre. I also remember a certain Mr. Catt guiding a young protege at 10 through his early days. Maybe the process has now come full circle…

  4. Jonny is not the player he was, but would we have got to the World Cup Final without him? His kicking is not as flawless as it once was, his tackling not as destructive, his distribution hampered by standing too deep and his running game has never been that impressive, less for one magical Autumn Series in 2002 and a couple of 6 Nations Games here and there.

    Nevertheless, as Peelo says, he is a winner. And more than that, he makes those around him feel like winners, inspiring confidence and calmness.

    He has to be first choice – for now. I also have reservations about him at 12, I just think there are better players in that position than the great man.

    Back in your box Barnes, fairly unanimous from the rugbyblog panel: we know best!

  5. NO. Cipriani is ready to play fly-half for England, and he would do a fine job, as would others, but Wilkinson is almost back to his best and got better with every game he played for England. He’s already the best fly-half we’ve had, and I don’t think he’s peaked yet, imagine what he’ll be like when he finally gets to the top of his game.

Comments are closed.