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Danny Cipriani to leave Wasps and join Melbourne Rebels

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Cipriani excited by Super 15 opportunity

Danny Cipriani will leave Wasps at the end of the season and join newly formed Australian side Melbourne Rebels.

England manager Martin Johnson had said he would not select Cipriani if he moved to the southern hemisphere.

The 22-year-old fly-half admitted: "In the short term, it might not be the best thing for my England career.

"But in the long term I can hopefully come back and be the player I want to be and people want me to be," he told BBC 5 live.

Cipriani, who has won seven international caps, has been out of favour for most of Martin Johnson's reign as England manager.

But he denied his stalled international career was the main motivation for his move down under.

"It's a factor but it wasn't my main reason - that was to develop myself as a player and come back and play at 10 for England," he said.

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"I've spoken to Martin Johnson and [attack coach] Brian Smith and they can understand my reasons.

"I'm not going to say they were very supportive, but they can understand what I'm doing and were positive in what they said, so there's no bad blood or negativity there."

Cipriani conceded his Melbourne move would count him out of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

But he added: "I'd like to think if I'm playing well enough and if there's any sort of injury crisis or problem, I'll only be a plane ride away."

Since bursting onto the scene as one of the most highly-rated youngsters in the sport, Cipriani has found himself in the spotlight for his exploits both on and off the pitch.

He won the Heineken Cup in 2007, starting at full-back in the 25-9 win over Leicester, and was a key part of Wasps' league-winning side in the 2007-08 season.

Cipriani's form for Wasps saw him quickly elevated to the England squad but, after two caps as a replacement, he had to wait for his first start after being dropped for "inappropriate behaviour" when seen in a nightclub after midnight a few days before the game against Scotland.

Danny Cipriani and England boss Martin Johnson
Johnson (right) has not picked Cipriani since November 2008

But when his first Test start did come, at the expense of Jonny Wilkinson, Cipriani produced an inspired display against Ireland, only for a horrendous ankle injury in May 2008 to derail his meteoric rise.

After a rapid recovery from injury, Cipriani - who enjoys a high-profile relationship with model and actress Kelly Brook - returned to action with pins in his ankle and was soon back in the England number 10 shirt.

But he struggled to regain his best form and lost his place in the national side, and - amid reports of a difficult relationship with the England coaching set-up - found himself in the Saxons squad.

He did not even make the senior summer tour to Argentina despite numerous players being away with the British and Irish Lions.

He added: "Leaving Wasps is very hard, this is my home. I see this move as the next step in my career and would never rule out coming back to play in England.

"If I did, the first place I would look at is Wasps, and we have already talked about that as a possibility for the future.

"I believe in the coaches and the players here and it will be very difficult to leave, but the decision has been made easier by having the support of (director of rugby) Tony Hanks and (head coach) Shaun Edwards."

Kelly Brook and Danny Cipriani
Cipriani says girlfriend Kelly Brook fully supports his decision

Melbourne's head coach is former Australia boss Rod Macqueen and they are busily recruiting ahead of their debut Super 15 season next year.

Cipriani added that he had "always admired the Super 14" and that "the opportunity of playing in a completely different tournament against different players at this time in my career will help me develop on and off the field."

Wasps director of rugby Hanks said: "[Danny's] reasons are based on rugby and personal development."

The English club released a statement saying the 22-year-old was leaving "with the club's understanding and support".

They added Cipriani had "made clear his ambition to return to England in the future and a return to Wasps down the line has already been discussed".



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see also
Carling questions Cipriani desire
12 Feb 10 |  English
Grieving Cipriani out of Saxons
28 Jan 10 |  English
Cipriani returns after broken leg
08 Dec 09 |  London Wasps
Cipriani closing in on comeback
30 Oct 09 |  London Wasps
Cipriani ruled out for six months
19 May 08 |  English
Cipriani lives up to the hype
16 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Cipriani takes Wilkinson's place
11 Mar 08 |  English
Cipriani axed from England team
25 Nov 08 |  English
Six Nations Young Guns - Danny Cipriani
27 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union


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