South Africa boss Rassie Erasmus is surprised at Danny Cipriani’s omission from England’s squad for the November internationals.
Head coach Eddie Jones overlooked Cipriani despite the playmaker impressing on the field since trading Wasps for Gloucester in the summer.
England boss Jones has insisted he omitted Cipriani on form rather than any fallout from his £2,000 fine after pleading guilty to assault and resisting arrest on Gloucester’s pre-season tour of Jersey.
Cipriani has since been suspended for three weeks after his red card for a high tackle in Gloucester’s 36-22 Champions Cup loss at Munster, but can return to action when the Cherry and Whites face Leicester on November 16.
England will host South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday, with visiting coach Erasmus admitting he had anticipated Cipriani’s inclusion in Jones’ ranks.
“Just because he’s a great talent, I was surprised he’s not involved,” said Erasmus.
“But in terms of the way Eddie (Jones) is building his squad, he has his ducks in a row in terms of who is his second and third choice and how he mixes and matches them.
“It would be foolish for me to comment on selection, not being in their camp.
“I just know Danny is a talented player and has certainly got a bag full of tricks.”
Fit-again Manu Tuilagi could add power to England’s midfield if he starts in the centres on Saturday.
Co-captain Owen Farrell would most likely start at fly-half should Jones opt to pitch in Leicester wrecking-ball Tuilagi from the off against the ever-physical Springboks.
Cipriani started for England as Jones’ men grabbed a consolatory 25-10 victory in the summer’s third Test against the Springboks, losing the series 2-1 but securing a morale-boosting win in Cape Town.
The 30-year-old conjured a defence-turning grubber for a vital Jonny May try, that had Erasmus expecting to see him in action again this autumn.
While Cipriani’s World Cup 2019 hopes again hang in the balance, Erasmus does not feel England will be overly weakened by his absence this weekend.
Asked if it will be easier to prepare his Springboks to face an England team missing Cipriani, Erasmus said: “No, I think that would be a stupid statement for me to make.
“Farrell can do it and there are so many guys in the English team that can make something out of nothing.
“It’s difficult to prepare against him (Cipriani) but I wouldn’t say England are going to be easier to prepare for without him.”
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