Cipriani reveals England agony

They are both 22, precociously talented and should be looking forward to a starring role as their countries try to win the World Cup – but there the similarities end between Lionel Messi and Danny Cipriani.

Cipriani heads to Melbourne at the end of the season on a two-year deal to play for the Rebels in the Super 15, after being harshly cast aside by the England rugby team. In a fascinating and wide-ranging interview today with our rugby union writer Hugh Godwin, the player talks about the fact that England's coaches believe he has an attitude problem.

Cipriani, who admits he has lost faith that manager Martin Johnson will pick him any time soon, says: "I'm not saying I know it all. I am absolutely not saying I'm the best player. Martin might not think I fit his mould or his shirt, for what he wants, or how he wants to play." But in a swipe at the way he has been handled by England, he adds: "It's to do with making you feel wanted. If it was up to me, I'd be giving players confidence, not knocking them down."

Despite that, Cipriani is desperate to play for the Red Rose again and would love to don the jersey for next year's World Cup. Talking about his sojourn Down Under, he says: "I'll be back when I'm 24. I could be back playing for England before then. I doubt it, but that thought will always be at the back of my mind."

Cipriani heads for Melbourne with Kelly Brook for company (there are some consolations) and his dog Rocky. "He's low maintenance," Cipriani adds. Hardly anyone has described Cipriani as such.

He is also animated when discussing Messi. "He's just fun-loving, he's happy, isn't he? He knows how good he is. He's more of a team player now. Now he's playing off everyone, he's just unbelievable to watch." If only the same could be said of a gifted Wasp.