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.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy