English Rugby
Cipriani confirms Rebels switch
Scrum.com
February 19, 2010

Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani will leave the club at the end of the season after agreeing a move to the Melbourne Rebels.

The Guinness Premiership side released a statement today confirming that the 22-year-old will leave Adams Park in favour of a switch to the newly-formed Australian franchise that will enter an expanded Super 15 competition next year. His decision will effectively see his international career put on hold although he has already made clear his ambition to return to England in the future.

Cipriani, widely regarded as one of the most talented players in the game, has failed to make headway under the regime of England manager Martin Johnson and is hoping a a new challenge at the Rebels, who will be coached by former Wallabies boss Rod Macqueen, will improve his international chances.

"I have been given no indication that I am pushing for a place with England at the moment so it is up to me to ensure I am in contention in the future by challenging myself in new realms," said Cipriani. "I have some of the best coaches and players in the game around me at Wasps, which is why it has been so hard to make my decision, but I am still young enough to go away and experience something completely different. I want to be the best player I can be and this is a huge challenge and opportunity to test myself, on and off the pitch, because it will be changing everything I know.

"Leaving Wasps is very hard - this is my home, I have played here since I was 15," added Cipriani. "It is a very special club because of what it has achieved and the people who are a part of it. I see this move as the next step in my career and would never rule out coming back to play in England. If I did, the first place I would look at is Wasps and we have already talked about that as a possibility for the future. I believe in the coaches and the players here and it will be very difficult to leave, but the decision has been made easier by having the support of Tony (Hanks) and Shaun (Edwards).

"Moving to Australia will be a new challenge. I have always admired the Super 14 as a tournament and the first team I ever followed was Wellington. I used to wake up and watch Christian Cullen and it was something I had always thought about. I think the opportunity of playing in a completely different tournament against different players at this time in my career will help me develop on and off the field."

Macqueen praised Cipriani's desire to better himself and insisted that his motivation was not financial.

"Danny was insistent that he wanted to come here and it wasn't about money," he told Sky Sports News. "It was about changing his direction in what he is doing with his sport. That is what attracted me most.

"He was interested in what we are doing and getting an understanding of what we are trying to do in putting the side together. We are a new franchise, and that requires a special approach to things. We need a team-first attitude, and what impressed me was Danny's humility.

"It was not about money, it was about his future and the type of players he would be playing alongside. He seemed to be seeking something that wasn't about the highest dollar."

Hanks confirmed that while nothing had been agreed, the possibility remained for Cipriani to return to Wasps following the end of his time in Australia.

"Obviously we are disappointed that Danny is leaving, especially as he has worked hard on a return to form on the back of a couple of nasty injuries. However, knowing his reasons are based on rugby and personal development, we as a club support his decision.

"Working with him for the last few weeks around this decision, we have looked at it more as a Wasp going on a sabbatical and, whilst nothing is guaranteed, Danny has expressed a desire to return to the club later down the line."

Cipriani has been named in the Wasps team for Sunday's Guinness Premiership clash against play-off rivals Saracens and news of his exit comes hot on the heels of Wasps' England wing Paul Sackey agreeing a two-year contract to play alongside Jonny Wilkinson at Toulon next term. Cipriani's decision to pursure a Super Rugby career also comes a day after another English fly-half - Andy Goode - secured a move to the Durban-based franchise The Sharks.

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