With Cipriani on verge of England exit, these are Wasps options
It is closing in on crunch time for Wasps and Danny Cipriani.
The talismanic fly-half had stated that he would wait until January to make a decision on his future and his lack of inclusion in the recent two-day England training camp for the Six Nations will not have improved Wasps’ chances of retaining him.
There is interest from several Top 14 clubs in Cipriani’s services, including Lyon, Stade Français and Toulon, and they have the means to offer him a more lucrative deal than Wasps can, with the English side eager not to jeopardise the overall quality of their squad under the salary cap by overpaying at a single position.
Should he choose to make the move across the Channel, no one could blame him.
He has been one of the form fly-halves in the world game over the last three or four years, but the timing of his resurgence and maturing as a rugby player has unfortunately coincided with the rises of Owen Farrell and George Ford as England’s preferred playmakers.
Beyond the duo of Ford and Farrell, Eddie Jones has looked to blood fly-halves who have the ability to play multiple positions, such as Alex Lozowski, Henry Slade and Piers Francis, whilst the next genuine challenger for the 10 jersey seems to have been found in Marcus Smith.
As a result, no one would begrudge Cipriani heading to France and setting himself up for his future after rugby, but it does leave Wasps in an interesting spot.
Back in December, Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said that should Cipriani move to France, he would likely look to bring in a centre next season, with Jimmy Gopperth capable of moving back to 10.
The New Zealander will be 35 years of age at the beginning of the 2018/19 season and injuries can begin to occur more often later in a player’s career, potentially making Wasps’ fly-half depth next season look worryingly thin.
Connor Eastgate and Jacob Umaga are two further options in Wasps’ senior academy, but neither player has had much senior rugby experience outside of the A League and Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Wasps’ recruiting strategy over the next few months will be interesting to watch, with many of the notable fly-halves coming off contract, such as Dan Carter, Finn Russell, Dan Biggar and Simon Hickey, having already publicly agreed deals to move to other clubs, whilst many more have verbal agreements in place, with official confirmation to come shortly.