A resurgent Danny Cipriani admits Owen Farrell has not put a foot wrong this year as the two fly-halves prepare to battle it out for England supremacy this summer.
Should Cipriani earn an England recall ahead of the tour to New Zealand next month, as far as the camp’s stand-offs go he will be considered a veteran at 26.
It is easy to forget that Saracen, England, and British & Irish Lion Farrell is still just 22 – while Bath’s golden boy George Ford turned 21 two months ago.
Farrell remains the man to oust from the controls at No.10 and will meet one of his predecessors, Jonny Wilkinson, when Saracens and Toulon clash in their Heineken Cup showdown in three weeks’ time.
Meanwhile, Cipriani marshalled a gritty Sale Sharks side to within touching distance of the Aviva Premiership play-offs as he vies to return to the England reckoning six years on from his debut.
And while both have faced different challenges this year, Cipriani can’t help but admire Farrell from afar.
“I think he’s had a great season, the consistency he’s shown, the way he has brought the runners on and his kicking game, it’s all been positive for him,” he said.
“It’s shown in the England performances and the way he’s performed, whenever he’s gone back to his club he’s also played well and that’s the sign of a good player who adapts between different systems – he’s shown that.
“I don’t compare myself with him, he’s great at what he does and if you can adapt to one team to another and still drive the team forward that’s credit to him.
“So respect for that, but for me it’s just about looking after a different team compared to that team. I don’t think it’s harder, it’s just different. There are different ways to skin a cat as it were.”
Between Cipriani, Ford and Farrell – not to mention Northampton’s Stephen Myler – England boast a trove of talented 10s for Stuart Lancaster to stew over.
And though he may have to wait patiently for his turn behind Farrell, Cipriani believes no starter can rest on their laurels under Lancaster’s regime.
“What Stuart wants is competition in all positions, if you look at the squad at the moment it’s competition from one to 15,” he added.
“There’s lots of it, you’ve got (full-back) Mike Brown as standout player in England and in the world, but he’s also got Ben Foden and Alex Goode who’ve been pushing him as well.
“Mike Brown fully deserves his place but he’s got two people saying ‘look, we’re here as well’, and that’s been the position which has consistently been the best.
“So it shows the type of management and player that England want and try to provide.”
Danny Cipriani was speaking at the launch of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Policy. Sign up for exclusive access to interviews and competitions at premiershiprugby.com/avivarugbypolicy