Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cipriani retains World Cup hopes

Danny Cipriani
Cipriani has won seven caps for England

Danny Cipriani has not given up hope of making the England squad for next year's World Cup, despite his impending move to Super 15 side Melbourne Rebels.

The former Wasps fly-half has not played for England since 2008.

And with the Super 15 season coinciding with the Six Nations, Cipriani is highly unlikely to make England manager Martin Johnson's World Cup squad.

But Cipriani, 22, told BBC Sport: "If I'm playing well hopefully I'll play some part in the squad."

Cipriani, who is heading to Australia next week, added: "My whole life has been geared towards playing for England and that's always been my ambition.

"Obviously this doesn't look like a direct route to achieving that, it's slightly diverted, but I believe it's the way to get me to be the best player I can be.

"Right now I'm not fitting into the coaches' plans so I just want to make sure I can do the best I can and improve myself and make sure I get picked.

"They've said that if I'm abroad it's going to be difficult because my season starts in February when the Six Nations starts so I won't have much time to play international rugby, but I'll never say never.

"Hopefully they can see what I'm doing but I think they've got what they're looking for for the World Cup so I've got to be selfish and make myself the best I can.

"By the time my contract's up I'll be 24 and things could go so swimmingly that I stay down there."

Cipriani was supposed to arrive in Australia last week for the official launch of the new Rebels outfit, which has turned what was the Super 14 competition into the Super 15.

But his arrival has been delayed by "visa problems", fuelling speculation that he was having second thoughts about the move.

However, a Rebels spokesman said on Thursday that the club had been in contact with Cipriani and that they were confident he would be arriving "very soon".

Cipriani might be the Rebels' most high-profile signing but he has been out of favour with England since a disastrous performance against South Africa in November 2008, when England lost 42-6 at Twickenham.

Cipriani's progress has also been hampered by injuries and training-ground spats, while sections of the media have focused on his private life, leading to the perception his priorities lie away from rugby.

However, Cipriani, who has seven England caps, said he was highly motivated to prove himself in the Super 15, where he will be playing alongside and against some of the biggest names in the game.

"I'm really looking forward to the challenge of going to Melbourne, it's going to be a pretty special time down there," said Cipriani.

"It's the best brand of rugby that there is and there are already huge names down there like Matt Giteau and Dan Carter, so I don't think people need any more reason to watch Super 15.

"It's a competition I've always dreamed of playing in because [former All Black full-back] Christian Cullen was always my idol and that's the competition he played in.

"I want to improve as a player and I should do that just through the training, let alone the playing, because of the calibre of personnel Melbourne have in the team.

"But also I'll be playing against Carter, Giteau, Morne Steyn and Quade Cooper, players with a ridiculous amounts of talent, it's exciting to be able to pit myself against the best in the world."

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