Super Rugby
Rebels out to protect Cipriani
ESPNscrum Staff
January 13, 2011
London Wasps' Danny Cipriani smiles during a warm-up, London Wasps v Leicester Tigers, Guinness Premiership, Adams Park, Wycombe, England, December 6, 2009
Rod Macqueen wants Danny Cipriani to concentrate on his rugby © Getty Images

Melbourne Rebels boss Rod Macqueen is keen for Danny Cipriani to shed the celebrity lifestyle that generated criticism during his time with Wasps.

The 23-year-old playmaker is gearing up for the new Super Rugby season after taking plunge with the start-up franchise, who are set to face Tonga, Fiji and the Crusaders in the coming weeks before making their competitive bow against the Waratahs on February 18.

Macqueen, who led Australia to the Rugby World Cup in 1999, wants Cipriani to be allowed to concentrate on hitting the ground running after a long spell away from the game. According to reports in The Daily Telegraph, the fly-half is set to take the vice captaincy role against Tonga on Saturday in a bid to generate a sense of responsibility.

"One of our pledges is 'we are not me'. Let's put the team first. That's hard when you've got someone with a profile like Danny," he told The Daily Mail. "We are making an effort to keep him away from the profile he had overseas.

"He has obviously got a high profile and that's difficult when you come from overseas and you're in a team environment. It's not ideally what we want. The reality is that he is here to play rugby. That's what he wants to do and the more distractions he gets the more it takes away from his game."

The former Brumbies boss praised the start Cipriani has made to his life Down Under, despite early visa issues forcing him to miss the team's pre-season team conference in October.

"The reality is that he lives a lifestyle around rugby and the majority of his life is rugby, but he does take a girl out from time to time and we don't see that as a problem," Macqueen said.

"He feels embarrassed sometimes that he gets publicity because he goes out with a girl. Danny has been good. We have tried to protect him and that's been good for him, he has been able to settle down and work, he is quite respected among the players."

Wales No.8 Gareth Delve, who is set to captain the Rebels on the weekend, is anticipating a strong start from Cipriani. "Danny has been great and has really thrived once we have started building towards the rugby side of things and preparing for games," the former Gloucester skipper told The Daily Telegraph. "He has really come out of his shell and come into his own. He has a fantastic rugby brain, he sees when things open up on the pitch and for us it is a case of getting on his wavelength.

"He has some very good leadership qualities by the way he can play and in the position that he is playing. He has got a chance to lead with the Rebels and I think he will seize it."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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