Danny Cipriani quits Melbourne Rebels to boost hope of England return


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The Independent Online

A desire to prepare for the next Aviva Premiership season and regain a place in the England side has led to Danny Cipriani securing an early release from his contract with the Melbourne Rebels.

The fly-half is currently midway through the Victoria club's Super Rugby campaign, but is to return to his homeland ahead of schedule to link-up with new club Sale.

The 24-year-old penned a deal with the north-west outfit several weeks ago, but was expected to see out his commitments in Australia before joining the Sharks.

However, Cipriani has had his request to terminate his deal early approved, and is heading home with the intention of showing England coach Stuart Lancaster what he is capable of.

"I want to thank the club for being so understanding with my wishes and granting me a release to return to England," said Cipriani.

"I've made no secret of my desire to play for England again and I believe leaving now will give me the best opportunity to do that.

"I feel I have developed my game in my time in Australia and become a more complete player. I wish the Rebels every success in the future and should the opportunity ever arise again I would not hesitate to return."

Cipriani has spent two years with the Rebels, scoring a club record 122 points in the process.

His time has not been without incident, though, with him being stood down for a month last season following a breach of club discipline.

But despite that, Melbourne have wished him well.

"Danny goes with our blessing and we thank him for his contribution to our club during his time here," said chief executive Steve Boland.

"Essentially the time is right for both parties to part company, the decision is amicable and we wish him all the best for the future."

Cipriani leaves the Rebels 13th out of 15 teams in the Super Rugby competition, and his departure has been sanctioned despite the long-term absence of fellow half-back James O'Connor.

The former Wasps player has long stated his intentions to make a return to the England side.

Despite his immense promise he has won just seven caps, blotting his copybook early on in his international career when he was dropped from a Six Nations clash with Scotland for disciplinary reasons.

The player, who has toyed with a football career after a spell training with the MK Dons, often spoke of being isolated from former England coach Martin Johnson's plans, but will hope the appointment of Lancaster, for whom he played under for the England Saxons, can offer him a route back into the senior side.

In a statement of their own, Sale welcomed Cipriani's early release, with chief executive Steve Diamond saying: "This is great news for Sale Sharks. Danny will be able to enjoy a rest period, along with his future playing colleagues at the club."