Cipriani shows he has talents as a healer too

It looked as if the No 10 would miss the rest of 2008 but an emotional return beckons. By Tim Glover

The message seems to be that if you are going to suffer a serious injury, do it when you are young, footloose and fancy-free. Danny Cipriani, months ahead of schedule, is expected to be named on the Wasps bench against Bath at High Wycombe on Wednesday night.

The last time the clubs met at Adams Park, in the Guinness Premiership semi-final in May, the brilliant young stand-off crumbled under the weight of a double tackle and left the field on a stretcher, breathing through an oxygen mask. He suffered a gruesome fracture dislocation of the right ankle which became known as the "Cipwreck".

Of course he would miss England's tour to New Zealand (he didn't miss much), but the view was that he would be out for so long he could write off 2008. Yet his rehabilitation has been so swift and successful that he could rejoin England's elite squad for the busy autumn international schedule.

"I remember my body going numb and not feeling too much pain," Cip-riani recalls. "But when I looked at my ankle, my brain told me I was meant to feel pain, so I suddenly did.

"Returning to the game is going to be emotional. I had doubts about coming back and I voiced my opinions, but my friends told me to be quiet and just get on with it. That's what I've tried to do. I'll have to calm myself a bit."

Ian McGeechan, Wasps' director of rugby, praised Cipriani's approach to the injury. "I have seen players struggle when they pick up serious leg injuries but Danny's attitude has been superb. It is that which has helped him come through ahead of schedule."

That and what is recognised as a thoroughly professional input from the medical teams, from the moment it was recognised the right ankle was pointing at a right angle. He has been in good hands throughout the process.

That evening Cipriani had an operation at the Lister Hospital in London. The head physiotherapist at Wasps, Prav Mathema, was full of praise for the hospital's work as well as his own medical team. Others also made a contribution, including the travelling medics from Bath, who assisted Cipriani as he lay on the pitch, and the paramedics who looked after the playeras he was driven from the stadium.

Then there was the surgeon, James Calder, who, according to Cipriani, did a "fantastic job". "I'm glad I saw the X-rays that evening because they showed the ankle was dead straight," Cipriani said. "I could see it was going to realign properly and that everything would be fine in the end."

Lawrence Dallaglio – Wasps have been missing their former captain and No 8 since his retirement at the end of a triumphant season as much as they have missed Cipriani during a wretched start to the new campaign – was of the view that the EnglandNo 10, with three caps, could ultimately benefit from the experience.

"I think Danny will emerge a stronger player," Dallaglio said. It may just be wishful thinking, but on the other hand Dallaglio has been there and done it and has the scars to prove it. He was forced to leave the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia in 2001 because of a knee injury and was invalided out of the ill-starred Lions campaign in New Zealand in 2005 with a fracture dislocation of the ankle. He and Cipriani can compare notes.

Having severed his relationship with a Cheeky Girl, Cipriani has been photographed out on the town with Kelly Brook, a former Big Breakfast presenter who used to go out with the Hollywood actor Billy Zane. Still a month shy of his 21st birthday, Cipriani says he is in no hurry to enter into a serious long-term relationship.

He is, however, impatient to get back into professional rugby, first with Wasps and then England. He is not in the elite 32-man party, but if form and fitness warranted it, he could be promoted from the second-string Saxons. Martin Johnson has Jonny Wilkinson back from a long-term injury but the competition at No 10 is not as intense as it should be. Through form or injury, Charlie Hodgson, Ryan Lamb and Shane Geraghty have fallen below Johnson's admittedly lofty radar.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'