Cipriani seeks fresh start with Rebels - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cipriani seeks fresh start with Rebels

Melissa Woods 16/01/2011 01:01:56 PM Comments (0)

Rebels English recruit Danny Cipriani was finally allowed to do some talking off the field, but on the field was kept quiet by Tonga in the Melbourne rugby team's historic first outing.

The newest Super rugby franchise ran out winners in their debut match, scoring seven tries to one in a 43-13 win over the World Cup-bound Tongans at Olympic Park on Saturday.

More than 8,000 - double the club's expectations - turned out for the trial and the press box was almost full, with English journalists in town for the cricket and tennis keeping a close eye on Cipriani.

The 23-year-old has been shielded from the media since his arrival last year, with officials hoping to keep the focus on his rugby rather than the celebrity lifestyle he led in England.

He started the match at five-eighth, playing 40 minutes as coach Rod Macqueen looked to give the bulk of his squad a run.

Apart from a few nice touches, Cipriani showed little of the form that had him earmarked as a star when he scored 18 points on his first start for England in a Six Nations victory over Ireland in March 2008.

However it was his first start with a brand-new team, and his first rugby game in eight months.

"I feel alright, I enjoyed it, it's the first time I played in eight months so it was a good time to get a run out," said Cipriani, who hoped to secure the No.10 jersey for the Rebels' Super first round clash with the NSW Waratahs on February 18.

Despite the unofficial media ban Cipriani still managed to capture their attention by taking former Neighbours actress Stephanie McIntosh to a club function, but said he was happy to abide by Macqueen's edict that he kept a low profile.

"It was down to the coach to make that decision and it's obviously helped me and it's helped the situation," he said.

"I trust in his experience, Rod's a man who's won the World Cup ... he's had winning businesses so he knows the structure of winning and the focus in that situation so I'm just going to believe in what he says.

"I've had that (media attention) since I was 18 so I'm dealing with it now ... a lot of people will write whatever they want to write but you've just got to carry on with your job and do the best you can."

Macqueen described Cipriani's performance as "steady" but revealed his frustration when the questions continued about his player.

"We're very aware of the press that Danny's had in the past," Macqueen said.

"One of the things I'm at pains to point out is that it's very difficult when we're building a new team and we're always hearing about Danny.

"It's disappointing for him but that's one of the reasons he's come over here, to get a fresh start.

"He's only a young player and I think he can do that through this team."

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