Wasps have confirmed that Danny Cipriani has agreed terms with new Australian Super 15 franchise the Melbourne Rebels for next year.
Cipriani’s ties with Wasps will be cut at the end of the season, although a return is likely and discussions on that subject are ongoing.
“Obviously we are disappointed that Danny is leaving, especially as he has worked hard on a return to form on the back of a couple of nasty injuries,” said Wasps coach Tony Hanks.
“However, knowing his reasons are based on rugby and personal development, we as a Club support his decision.
“Working with him for the last few weeks around this decision, we have looked at it more as a Wasp going on a sabbatical and, whilst nothing is guaranteed, Danny has expressed a desire to return to the club later down the line.
“Wasps has been a big part of his life, especially in terms of his development in the last 6/7 years, and not many players get to experience another competition or another culture at only 22.
“I certainly believe this sort of sabbatical period is becoming more accepted in rugby, as we have seen in recent years – a prime example being All Black Luke McAlister.
“It was something that was more common in the amateur era and something that we used to encourage with high profile English cases including Martin Johnson, who travelled to New Zealand and played for the New Zealand U21s, and a number of others like Matt Dawson.”
Cipriani (Who wears Adidas Predator X Rugby Boots) echoed Hanks’ sentiments on a return, saying the move, both there and back, could only help develop his rugby
“Leaving Wasps is very hard – this is my home, I have played here since I was 15,” he said.
“It is a very special club because of what it has achieved and the people who are a part of it.
“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.
“Moving to Australia will be a new challenge. I have always admired the Super 14 as a tournament and the first team I ever followed was Wellington.
“I used to wake up and watch Christian Cullen and it was something I had always thought about. I think 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.
“I have been given no indication that I am pushing for a place with England at the moment so it is up to me to ensure I am in contention in the future by challenging myself in new realms.
“I want to be the best player I can be and this is a huge challenge and opportunity to test myself, on and off the pitch, because it will be changing everything I know.”
The rebels who are also being linked with Rocky Elsom, Stade Francais former rugby league superstar Mark Gasnier and a hole host of other top class internationally. The franchise is privately owned unlike all the other Australian Franchises meaning for the first two years up to ten oversea’s players are allowed to be signed.
Whats your thoughts? Has Johnson pushed Cipriani to this?