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Tyrone Howe: Cipriani’s Aussie link is no shock, but it could be a perfect move

I had to smile at the story in the rugby press about England’s enfant terrible, Danny Cipriani. Apparently he is in talks with new Super 15 franchise, Melbourne Rebels. Of course, he is.

It is hilarious how interested players are in plying their trade elsewhere when they are in contract negotiations with their current clubs. The classic negotiating tactics from players’ agents — “he’s in demand, if you don’t want to lose him, show us the money!”

When questioned about this potential move, Martin Johnson replied that Cipriani could write off any chance of making the World Cup squad if he spent the next season in the Southern Hemisphere. Apparently this has made Cipriani reconsider his options. Of course, it has.

Cipriani is an enigma. Two years ago, his debut performance in England’s 33-10 victory over Ireland was as good as I have seen. The way he pulled the strings from outhalf oozed class and total self-confidence.

Since then this has been eroded, partly through injury and a lack of rugby, partly through his own attitude and partly through poor player management.

He has undoubted but fragile talent. English rugby is in danger of losing one of its most skillful young players.

In reality, I do not believe that Cipriani is close to the England senior squad. He has produced little of quality since returning from injury and Martin Johnson has scant time for individuals whose celebrity seems to go before their rugby.

Ironically, it might actually do the player a power of good to have a fresh start, away from the spotlight and to expose himself to the best of Southern Hemisphere rugby. It would suit his style of play as there is little room in the Guinness Premiership for the flair that Cipriani undoubtedly possesses. In the player’s own interests, it may be time to call his bluff.

Belfast Telegraph

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