Cipriani flyhalf spot 'open'

2011-11-29 09:11
Danny Cipriani (Gallo)

Melbourne - Danny Cipriani is not guaranteed to play at flyhalf for the Melbourne Rebels in next year's Super Rugby series following the arrival of Wallaby James O'Connor, coach Damien Hill warned on Tuesday.

Cipriani, who played for the Barbarians against the Wallabies at Twickenham last weekend, has ambitions of playing for England again after a three-year absence, but Hill hinted that O'Connor may claim the No 10 for the Rebels.

O'Connor was outstanding in his first run at flyhalf at international level, outplaying Cipriani with a match haul of 20 points as the Wallabies thrashed the Barbarians 60-11 last Saturday.

After his Barbarians' appearance Cipriani said that he was going to be the Rebels' No 10 in the 2012 Super Rugby season with O'Connor at 12, captain Stirling Mortlock at outside centre and Kurtley Beale at fullback.

But Melbourne coach Hill said no jerseys were locked in.

"It's great to hear Danny so enthusiastic but with all respect to him, it's not how we work here," Hill told reporters.

"We select players based on performance, behaviours, the talent we have available. There's going to be some selection challenges ahead. It's going to be what's best for the team."

Hill, who has taken over from Rod Macqueen, said he was impressed by O'Connor's commanding performance and said he was an option at flyhalf.

"Definitely. He's shown himself now at 10, 12 on the wing and at fullback so he's a talented player," Hill said.

"James' work in the contact was excellent, he's ability to direct the play, his offloads, just his general go-forward was excellent."

He said it was unfair to compare O'Connor and Cipriani because of the Englishman's lack of preparation in an unfamiliar team that was soundly beaten.

Cipriani last played for England against New Zealand at Twickenham in 2008 and was then banished to the international wilderness by former England manager Martin Johnson and played no part in this year's World Cup.

The former England man has endured a series of controversies that stalled his once-glittering career, but further indiscretions in Australia put his future under the spotlight.

Capped at 20, Cipriani was hailed as a superstar in the making only for a chaotic social life, in a pattern which repeated itself in his adopted home.

The new Super Rugby season gets underway on February 24.

Read more on:    super 15  |  danny cipriani  |  james o'connor

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