Aviva Premierhsip
Cipriani talks up improvement in game
ESPN Staff
July 15, 2012
Danny Cipriani in action for the Melbourne Rebels, Melbourne Rebels v Blues, AAMI Park stadium, Melbourne, Australia, February 11, 2011
Danny Cipriani insists his defensive game improved during his two-year spell with Super Rugby side the Rebels © Getty Images
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Sale Sharks' new recruit Danny Cipriani insists he returns to the Aviva Premiership stage a much improved player following his two-year spell in Super Rugby.

The former England international has often been criticised for his defensive efforts while his playmaking ability failed to inspire great things from the Melbourne Rebels who did not challenge for honours during his stay with the fledgling franchise.

But the 24-year-old former Wasps star is adamant that he is a better player than that which turned his back on England two years ago and credits the Rebels coaching team - including former Wallabies defensive specialist John Muggleton - for the advances in his game.

"John Muggleton taught me a lot in the southern hemisphere, he's one of the best coaches I've had from a defensive point of view and that area of my game has improved," said Cipriani, who is determined to regain his best form for the Sharks. "I also learned a lot about putting people into space and setting up tries. The southern hemisphere focuses on a lot of different areas of the game in terms of footwork and spatial awareness and the way they attack the game.

"If you watch the way the New Zealand boys side step they leave people for dead with their footwork and that something I've worked on a lot," he told The Rugby Paper. "Being in a faster game and experiencing another part of the world is going to help my game and hopefully, I can bring that to the Premiership. I'm 24 now and at a time in my life where I'm devloping in all areas. It's important I do everything I can to make sure this is a good year for me."

Cipriani is no stranger to the headlines off the field but believes high-profile incidents like those that blighted his time in Australia are a thing of the past. "You grow up more as you get older anyway but being away from home speeds up the process," he said of his maturity. "I'm 24 now and at a time in my life where I'm developing in all areas. It's important I do everything I can to make sure this is a good year for me."

Former England international and Sale Sharks winger Mark Cueto is confident that Cipriani can find his feet in the Premiership once again. "I think regardless of who you are - whether you've got 50 caps for England and you've been around for 10 years and you have signed for a new club, or you're a new guy on the block or you find yourself in Cips' situation - you have always got to win the lads over," he told the newspaper.

"That comes by working hard and being a good lad. He's been here a week and I don't think the last could have asked any more of him. As long as he sticks to that which I'm sure he will, nobody will have any qualms about him."

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