News In Brief
Cipriani hints at Rebels rethink
Danny Cipriani appears to be in two minds over whether to follow through on his decision to join the Melbourne Rebels
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- Danny Cipriani has issued contradictory comments on his imminent switch to the Melbourne Rebels, hinting that he could succumb to pressure to stay at London Wasps before then declaring to his intention to make the most of his move 'Down Under'.
It was confirmed last month that the former England fly-half had signed a two-year deal with the Rebels. Cipriani insists that he is looking forward to switch but hinted after Sunday's European Challenge Cup win over Guinness Premiership rivals Gloucester that he could be persuaded to change his mind and remain at Adams Park.
"After days like that you do receive some taps on the shoulder to stay. If we win a few trophies, you never know," he said. "But I am very happy with the decision I have made and I am going to go and play some rugby and learn as much as I can and hopefully return the best player I can."
Meanwhile, Wasps director of rugby Tony Hanks is in no doubt that Cipriani's move to the Rebels will go through, though he did admit that the plan is for the No.10 to return to Wasps when his two-year deal with Super Rugby's newest franchise expires.
"Danny is committed to Melbourne as far as I am aware," said Hanks. "Danny is a Wasps kid. He has been here a long time and this Melbourne thing is a positive experience with a view to bringing him back.
"In my opinion it is a Wasp going down to play in Super 15 and we would love to see Danny back. As the seasons work out, two seasons in the Super 15 doesn't mean he will miss two seasons up here."
- Sonny Bill Williams' European-based agent has revealed that he has held talks with the New Zealand Rugby Union about the player returning home this summer in order to be eligible for selection for the All Blacks' 2011 World Cup campaign.
However, Williams' representative, who spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald but did not want to be named, claimed that Toulon are desperate to hold on to the 24-year-old centre, who is also being courted by several NRL clubs.
"I am speaking with the New Zealand Rugby Union but the talks are in the very early stages," the agent told the Herald. "They have expressed interest in him and are keen to get him back, like they are with any of their international players playing overseas.
"But at the moment he wants to focus on his rugby with Toulon and they are very keen for him to stay. He is playing some really good rugby at the moment and starting to get his hands on the ball a lot more, and the team is going well."
- Stade Francais back-row James Haskell has again risked the wrath of his employers after publicly revealing his disappointment at being dropped for Sunday's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Toulouse.
The England international, who was at the centre of a bitter club-versus-country row during the Six Nations, was devastated by Stade's defeat at Le Stade Municipal, primarily because he had been left on the bench, and he expressed his dissatisfaction on Twitter.
"Gutted today, especially as I didn't play. I was and am 100% fit," Haskell declared on Sunday night.
Stade coach Jacques Delmas had earlier insisted that Haskell's omission had had nothing to do with the club's unsavoury dispute over the player's release from England duty during the Championship.
"We didn't pick James because we wanted a different line-out option," he is quoted as saying by The Guardian. "We wanted to attack them in that area. The reason he wasn't on the bench was because we wanted a specialist No.8 on the bench in case of injuries."
- Chiefs forward Jarrad Hoeata has been hit with a two-week suspension after being found guilty of striking an opponent during Friday's Super 14 defeat by the Bulls.
Hoeata was cited after appearing to punch Flip van der Merwe in the 70th minute of the game in Hamilton and was summoned to appear before a SANZAR disciplinary panel in Wellington on Monday.
The player admitted striking van der Merwe, thus prompting judicial officer Peter Hobbs, who also took into account an element of provocation arising from an earlier on-field incident, to issue nothing more than a two-week ban. Hoeata will now miss the Chiefs' upcoming home games against the Stormers and Cheetahs.
- Scotland have arranged a clash with Japan A ahead of this summer's tour to Argentina. A side drawing on players from the senior and A squads will meet the Japanese at Murrayfield on June 1.
Scotland head coach Andy Robinson said: "It gives our players a chance to measure where they are in terms of fitness and performance. After a season of playing against European teams, it also gives the players an opportunity to broaden their rugby education where they will be coming up against a team from a different continent with a different style of rugby.
"Ahead of both the tour to Argentina and our defence of the Nations Cup, it is incredibly important that we prepare the right way and this fixture will be the first building block towards ensuring that we are suitably equipped for the challenges ahead."