Bath's George Ford should be called up to the England squad, says Lewis Moody
Lewis Moody backs George Ford - and not Danny Cipriani - to step up to the England squad this week.
Last Updated: 08/01/14 2:15pm
The uncapped 20-year-old has been in terrific form this season and is set to earn a call up to Stuart Lancaster's revised Elite Players Squad this Thursday ahead of the Six Nations, which start in February.
With Leicester's Toby Flood likely to be left out of the squad due to his decision to play in France next season, Lancaster is expected to add another fly-half to his squad to compete with Owen Farrell and Freddie Burns.
Cipriani, who won all of his seven England caps in 2008, has been widely tipped for a recall, but Moody would be 'shocked' if the Sale Sharks fly-half is called up with doubts remaining over his defence and attitude.
Instead Moody, who will be on Wednesday's What's the Story?, believes Ford is ready to break into the England squad and challenge Farrell for the No.10 shirt this Six Nations.
"Ford is the go to guy in terms of being a controlled cool customer which is what Stuart likes," Moody told Sky Sports. "He is a really intelligent young footballer. He has been brilliant for Bath in terms of really guiding them. He is a vocal fly-half; he directs [his team]. He has really matured this season.
"I think he deserves the opportunity, I have my question marks but I think he deserves his opportunity to have a run in the side."
Like Ford, Cipriani has been in strong form in Aviva Premiership this season, helping Sale Sharks climb to seventh in the table after battling to avoid relegation last season.
Although Moody - who was involved in England squads with the former Wasps fly-half- hopes Cipriani has turned a corner in terms of his performances on the pitch and actions off it, he still has doubts over whether the fly-half would fit into an England team which places such emphasis on the culture and unity of the squad.
"There is a lot of talk about Cipriani coming in as well but I cannot see Stuart Lancaster bringing in Cipriani, just because of the environment and culture he is trying to create," he said.
"No matter your preconceived ideas about people and having seen him around the England squad in the past and the stories you hear coming back from changing rooms from other clubs and seeing what you see in the news, a lot of people would be loathed to having him in your squad because one person can contaminate everything that you are trying to achieve.
"But having said that everyone deserves a second opportunity and this year and last year with Sale he has knuckled down and got on with business. He has matured and hopefully with age has become a better focus on what's important for him - first and foremost that should be his rugby."
He added: "Danny's attitude was always the question mark. He was all about himself when he played and looking good. He was pulling off the flash moves rather than having the team at heart.
"I think through his off-filed antics over the last few years have not done him any favours in terms of creating a decent professional attitude. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt in terms of being able to change his focus. From his performances and h he looks like he has done that.
"Defensively he can still be weak, there is no doubt in attack he can be mesmeric and can be quite brilliant. But whether he has the all round game and cool calm head under pressure that Stuart would be looking for I not sure that he does.
"So I would be surprised if he got the call up. But he certainly looks like he has refocused and changed his attitude which is great because see like to see people with talent not wasted."
Three to watch
Anthony Watson (Bath) -
He really has been absolutely scintillating this season. Some of the games he has had this season have been outstanding. He is well worthy of his call up and it will be interesting to see if Stuart involves him.
Kyle Eastmond (Bath)
He is just a dynamic little ball of power. He is evasive, he is elusive, he is strong, he is very much out of the Jason Robinson mould. He is still in the transition from league but he is doing well in the centres. Defence may be his weakness at the moment but certainly in attack he can create opportunities for other people and find a hole. I would like to see him given an opportunity.
Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)
I would love to see him get a run out this Six Nations. I think he was unlucky not to get a game during the autumn and I think he deserves an opportunity. He is a big, skilful player. He is quick and he has a good off-loading game, which is something that England have been missing for a while. We have the big ball carriers and the guys that make the yards but you want the guys who get over the gainline and off-load.
One that will be missed
Christian Wade (London Wasps) - It was a real disappointment for me that Wade got that injury when he did because he would have had a run out during the autumn internationals and we all wanted to see Christian Wade on the international circuit because he is just so blisteringly exciting. He has that ability that reminds me of Jason Robinson.