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Rebel by name and nature

By Melissa Woods 05/10/2010 04:30:17 PM Comments (0)

England rugby recruit Danny Cipriani is proving to be a Rebel by name and nature after failing to show at Melbourne's Super 15 pre-season team conference.

The bulk of the 32-man squad assembled in Melbourne on Tuesday as their naming-rights sponsor, Dutch bank RaboDirect, was announced before they head down the Victorian coast to Lorne for a four-day workshop.

But the former England five-eighth was an obvious no-show.

"Danny's telling us he's had problems with his visa," coach Rod Macqueen said.

"We're working together with his management at the moment.

"We're disappointed he's not here but the last conversation we had with Danny, he's due to come in here next week."

Cipriani was the first player the Rebels signed, back in February, so Macqueen was understandably annoyed he hadn't managed to get his paperwork in order to make the move.

"There's an issue with the visa coming out of the English side of things. That's not to say it probably couldn't have been done a couple of months ago," he said.

"I won't get into that at this stage. We've been told he's not far off and will be here next week."

The 22-year-old, who had seven international caps before suffering a serious ankle injury, has in recent times gained more publicity for his off-field exploits than on.

Cipriani split in June from Playboy model and television presenter Kelly Brook after a two-year romance, and was then linked to Hollywood bad girl, actress Lindsay Lohan.

He spent time training in Denver in the United States with the Colorado Rapids soccer club, and most recently with the Milton Keynes Dons, who said they would sign him if he didn't enjoy his first season in Melbourne.

"It will be interesting to see (the shape he's in)," Macqueen said.

One player bound to be in good shape fitness-wise but perhaps not otherwise is St George Dragons forward Jarrod Saffy, who played in their winning NRL grand final on Sunday.

Saffy was given Tuesday off to continue team celebrations but was due in Melbourne early on Wednesday.

"I've spoken to him and congratulated him," Macqueen said.

"It's going to be hard for him to play in the grand final and got to come down straight here but because it's such an important part of the development of the team it's important for him to be here this first week and then he'll have a bit of time off."

The World Cup-winning coach said the four-day meeting was about getting to know the players and designing "a culture" for the side, who will join the expanded southern hemisphere rugby competition next season.

He said there were no imminent plans to name a skipper, with 13 former club captains within the squad putting their hands up.

"It will probably be player driven," Macqueen said.

"Management will have a part in it but I see this being very much a joint thing. We're all in this together."

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