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Tyrone Howe: Bad boy Cipriani could get one-way ticket back to England

A fresh start, a new beginning and a different outcome. One would imagine that all of these aims would have been on Danny Cipriani’s agenda as he set out on his travels to Australia.

Disappointingly, the Melbourne Rebel seems to have taken his new tag far too literally by being caught stealing a bottle of vodka from behind a nightclub bar. It is hard not to wonder whether he will ever learn.

While Toby Flood and Jonny Wilkinson are steering England to a potential Grand Slam, the player who aspires to be in the World Cup selection mix is already causing his new employers headaches. They say that first impressions last, and it is hard to see how Cipriani will not rapidly exhaust the patience of his coaches and team-mates.

His issued statement pleads remorse but the fact that his behaviour has broken the players’ “pledge” does not bode well for his future.

As ever, the juxtaposition is his rugby and a last gasp penalty to secure victory over the Brumbies reflects that other side to his character — innate footballing ability and a coolness under pressure.

Nonetheless, for a franchise which is in its embryonic and formative stage, the creation and laying down of a club culture is an integral aspect of a first season.

The fine of a match fee is a token gesture and this mild chastening will not in itself provide any deterrent.

The problem and solution lie with the man himself. No matter how good his rugby, if Cipriani does not knuckle down and concentrate on what he is getting paid for, he will find himself on a one-way ticket back to England.

He will also be greeted by an unsympathetic English rugby public with Martin Johnson at the front of the queue. Not the most enticing prospect.

Belfast Telegraph

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