English Rugby
Cipriani eyes international return
Scrum.com
February 20, 2010
Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani kicks the ball, London Wasps v Sale Sharks, Guinness Premiership, Adams Park, Wycombe, England, February 14, 2010
Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani will link up with the Melbourne Rebels later this year © Getty Images
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Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani believes his move to Melbourne Rebels will breathe life into his England career and he still harbours ambitions of appearing in next year's Rugby World Cup.

Cipriani has confirmed that he will quit the Premiership at the end of the season in favour of the newly-created Australian franchise that will join an expanded Super 15 competition in 2011. England manager Martin Johnson has previously indicated that Cipriani would be jeopardising his future if he opted for a move to the southern hemisphere due to the fact that the Super Rugby season clashes with the Six Nations but the 22-year-old is determined to return to the international stage.

"England have always been my ambition and hopefully this move will prolong my international career in the long run," said Cipriani who has agreed a two-year deal with the Rebels. "If I go to Australia and do well against guys like Dan Carter and Matt Giteau, I'll still be putting my hand up for the shirt.

"I know it's a long plane ride, but it's only one transfer and there are end-of-season tours and autumn internationals. This change is about me becoming a better rugby player, for me to develop as best I can. Super 15 rugby is the best place for me to develop myself in the short term. I haven't written off playing in the World Cup at all. If I'm playing well in the Super 15 against the 10s they have out there, hopefully I'll be able to play a part."

Cipriani opted for a new challenge contract after discovering he did not figure in Martin Johnson's immediate plans. Just two years after wowing Twickenham with a headline-grabbing display against Ireland that suggested England had uncovered their next fly-half, he finds himself marginalised under Johnson. He has since slipped to sixth in the position's pecking order amid reports his public profile and attitude had put him on a collision course with England's management. A career-threatening ankle injury and broken leg restricted his appearances but after making full recoveries he found himself exiled to the Saxons squad.

Cipriani told Johnson of his decision this yesterday morning and also spoke to England attack coach Brian Smith and he insists both conversations were amicable. "During the Six Nations I spoke to Brain Smith but not to Johnno," he said. "Brian Smith kept me in the loop before the Six Nations. When I spoke to him today there were no bad feelings, no bad blood. He could see the reasons why I've done it and could understand it. There's no negativity there at all. If anything, there was positive talk. It was good."

Cipriani was offered more lucrative terms to join French giants Stade Francais and while he denies wanting to escape England, he admits he will receive less attention in Australia. Known as much for his relationship with model Kelly Brook and presence in the gossip columns as his exploits on the pitch, he hinted that he has grown weary of the exposure.

"For me to have a change and to have a new outlook on life and rugby, I had to change the environment," he said. "I don't think there will be so much paparazzi out there. That's not the reason for me going, but the whole media side does come into it slightly. It's stuff that I've learnt to deal with over time and you'd like to say it gets easier.

"I don't think that if I went to France I'd have learnt too much more than I have now. It's a similar layout and format to here," he said. "For me to have a change and to have a new outlook on life and rugby I had to change the environment. I don't think there will be so much paparazzi out there. That's not the reason for me going, but the whole media side does come into it slightly. It's stuff that I've learnt to deal with over time and you'd like to say it gets easier."

Reflecting on a turbulent three years, Cipriani insists he would not have done anything differently. "Maybe not getting injured, that would have been nice! But I guess that's part and parcel of the game," he said. "I have so much ambition and desire that I want to come out of me. I want to make sure I can fulfil it. I can't tell you how much I want to finish this season on a high - that's the most important thing for me right now."

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