FORMER ENGLAND INTERNATIONAL fly-half Danny Cipriani has agreed an early termination of contraction with Victoria-based Super 15 outfit the Melbourne Rebels.
Cipriani was due to leave the Rebels at the end of the current campaign after negotiating a three-year contract with Aviva Premiership club Sale Sharks in March.
The 24-year-old, primarily deployed as a fly-half, has endured a chequered spell in Victoria. In addition to sporadically receiving barrages of media criticism for his perceived defensive ineptitude, injuries and a series of off-field indiscretions have prevented Cipriani from settling down.
The fly-half was retained this season despite the arrival of star Wallabies backs James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale, but even with injury ruling the former out until June, the club has opted to pay Cipriani the remainder of his contract rather than introduce his name to the starting 15.
“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.”
Rebels coach Damien Hill said he feels Cipriani can return to the international stage once more, and even add to his seven caps for England.
“When we signed Danny we were always aware of his ambitions to return to the English national team and we have always been supportive of helping him achieve his goals,” Hill said. “Danny believes that leaving now will give him the best chance to prepare for the long season ahead with Sale.”
Cipriani made 19 appearances during his two years in Melbourne and scored a club record 122 points. He leaves the Rebels in fourth place in the five-team Australian conference. They are 13th of 15 teams in the overall standings, with two wins from eight attempts.