Cipriani ready to return to bolster struggling Wasps

The last time Wasps played Bath at Adams Park, in last season's Guinness Premiership semi-final, the brilliant young outside-half Danny Cipriani wrecked his right ankle so comprehensively that grown men felt sick at the sight of the damage and experienced coaches feared England's latest potential world-beater would spend at least a year struggling to beat anything more substantial than an egg. Yet when Bath return to High Wycombe next Wednesday night, they may, miraculously, face Cipriani again.

If the West Countrymen would rather the most dynamic playmaking midfielder in the country delayed his comeback just a little longer, the rest of the red-rose nation will celebrate his return in the way they once toasted Jonny Wilkinson's regular recoveries from orthopaedic trauma. Cipriani had been expected to miss the first three months of the season at the very minimum, having suffered a fracture dislocation that left his non-kicking foot bent at an angle previously unknown to geometry. Instead, he looks like getting himself back on the field eight weeks earlier than even the greatest optimists anticipated.

"It's going to be emotional," he said last night in a television interview with Sky Sports, confirming his intention to feature on the replacements' bench. "I'll have to calm myself a bit... I had doubts about returning and I voiced my opinions, but my friends told me to be quiet and get on with it. That's what I've tried to do."

Cipriani, still five weeks or so shy of his 21st birthday, admitted memories of the injury were still fresh in his mind. "I remember my body going numb and not feeling too much pain," he said, "but when I looked at my ankle, my brain told me I was meant to feel pain, so I suddenly did. My surgeon, James Calder, did a fantastic job. I'm glad I saw the X-rays that evening because they showed the ankle was dead straight. I could see it was going to realign properly and that everything would be fine in the end."

Assuming his early rugby goes to plan, England's new manager, Martin Johnson, will be sorely tempted to involve him in the November international series at Twickenham – possibly towards the back end, when last year's World Cup runners-up meet the champions, South Africa, and New Zealand in consecutive weeks. Cipriani is not in the 32-man elite party, but has been included in the second-string Saxons squad and could, form and fitness willing, be promoted.

Had the youngster put together a full season of Test rugby last time out, he might have made the shortlist for the International Rugby Board's Player of the Year award. As it is, three Celts will fight the British corner: two Welshmen, the wing Shane Williams and the No 8 Ryan Jones, along with the Scotland scrum-half Mike Blair. Italy's captain, Sergio Parisse, and the All Black outside-half Dan Carter are the other contenders.

Williams is the early favourite, but Warren Gatland, who coached the Red Dragonhood to a Grand Slam last season, extolled the virtues of both his charges. "To have two players rated in the top five of the world game is a high accolade," he said.

3

The number of England appearances made by Danny Cipriani.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'