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Cipriani: Don’t count Sale Sharks out yet

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Danny Cipriani is still confident his Sale Sharks side will force their way into Aviva Premiership Rugby’s top six, despite a huge setback last weekend at London Irish.

Sale went down 25-23 after Alex Lewington’s second-half try double turned the game on its head, leaving them five points off the top European spots with just three games to play.

But with clashes against mid-table rivals Gloucester Rugby and Wasps on the horizon, as well as this weekend’s clash with title-contenders Bath Rugby, Cipriani insists all is not lost.

And the 27-year-old England fly-half is expecting to see plenty of changes at the Aviva Premiership Rugby summit as the season reaches its conclusion.

“We have to take every game as it is,” he said. “We need a few teams to beat each other and all the top teams are playing each other so there’s going to be some tough games for them.

“All we can do is win to put ourselves in the best position, so even if we win this week we’ll probably still be in seventh. Then in the following weeks that’s when we’ll see the changes happening.

“Then there’s also the slight possibility still of getting into the top four depending on results and how they go, so it’s a massive chance for us to do Sale Sharks and the north of England proud by doing well.

“There’s a job here to be done and I want to lead that. I’m ready for these next three weeks.”

After ending his six-year stint in the international wilderness last summer, and enjoying a Six Nations campaign that saw him prove his value to England coach Stuart Lancaster ahead of the World Cup, Cipriani’s focus is now firmly on the end of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season.

But having moved on to ‘senior player’ status at Sale, Cipriani admits he is relishing the opportunity to nurture the Sharks’ youngsters onto the international stage.

He added: “When you look at the desire of the young players here, there’s no reason why they can’t pull on the England shirt.

“You have to put in those big performances week in, week out to get noticed and the likes of Mike Haley, who’s been doing it all season, Josh Beaumont in the past couple of months, Tommy Taylor’s back from injury, Ross Harrison had an outstanding game against Gloucester.

“These guys are only 20 or 21, so there’s no reason why they can’t play for England.

“If they’re the driving force of the Sale team alongside the older guys who have been playing for years, it’s a great balance.

“Any way I can help, I will. Especially with the backs, I’ll do as much work with them as I can and I enjoy that role especially as I’m 27 and becoming a senior player.

“I remember when I was younger I had it through Alex King, who was an amazing mentor and has turned into an amazing coach. Lawrence Dallaglio as well.

“I’ve been professional for 10 years now so it’s part of my duty as a professional. I like to go above and beyond in that, so I’ll do whatever I can.”

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