Ronan O'Gara remark about Danny Cipriani shows how times have changed
Has it really been nine years since Danny Cipriani looked like the answer for England?
Nine years and just over two weeks, in fact.
Daniel Jerome Cipriani was just 20 years old when he had his best ever game in an England jersey. The Wasps outhalf put Ireland on a spike at Twickenham at got an entire nation carried away in the process.
In the absence of Brian O'Driscoll, Ronan O'Gara captained Ireland in the Six Nations fixture and told The Hard Yards [from 13:10 below] about how a great start went horribly wrong.
"We went 10-0 up and I was thinking 'This is going to be a great day'.
"But it was a new low - Danny Cirpriani got man of the match.
"I think it was 33-10 and he had a cracking game but it was obviously hard to take when you're the captain and he's your direct opponent."
The 23-point win over Ireland was a rarity for England during a period of Irish dominance. Cipriani kicked 18 points and ran the show in a No.10 jersey that Jonny Wilkinson had occupied to great results in the years previous.
His performance certainly had ESPNscrum purring. They wrote:
'Danny Cipriani announced a new era and quite possibly saved head coach Brian Ashton's job by inspiring England to a deserved RBS 6 Nations victory at Twickenham. Cipriani, dropped last week for his late-night visit to a Mayfair club, pulled on the number 10 shirt of Jonny Wilkinson and followed in the footsteps of the fly-half legend.'
Tellingly, it was the 'late-night' activities and antics, more so than the on-field heroics, that would dominate in the years that followed.
In the nine years that followed, Cipriani won only 11 more Test caps [three starts] and found himself bouncing from club to club, including a stint with Melbourne Rebels.
Now 29, Cipriani will start in the Wasps No.10 jersey against Leinster as a player with focus renewed and perseverance rewarded. He got back into the England set-up under Stuart Lancaster but has not had a sniff under Eddie Jones.
According to those close to him, Cipriani wants an England return but is content with pushing for honours on duel fronts with Wasps. In this season's Champions Cup, Cipriani has contributed 28 points [including a try] in four appearances.
Another decent outing against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium is unlikely to get him that England call-up but the fact that he is back in the conversation is an achievement in itself. Cipriani has gone from the butt of a joke to a man his teammates can rely on.
Whether or not he gets the last laugh over another Irish outhalf, Johnny Sexton, remains to be seen.