Vodacom Super Rugby
Cipriani back in Rebels fold
Melbourne - Melbourne Rebels on Tuesday welcomed Danny Cipriani back into the fold with coach Rod Macqueen saying the troubled England international still had a future at the Australian Super Rugby club.
The flyhalf, in his first season of a two-year deal with the Rebels, has not played since April 30 after two alcohol-fuelled disciplinary incidents led to his suspension by the club.
But the ban was lifted and Cipriani returned to training on Tuesday after the Rebels and his management finally reached an agreement.
"To me it's really simple, if he wants it (a future with the Rebels), it's there for him," Macqueen told reporters.
"He's a good player, he's a skillful player and skillful players are always important in a team environment.
"It's up to Danny now. It's good to have him back available for selection and I'm really looking forward to moving forward."
Macqueen, the World Cup-winning Wallabies' coach, said Cipriani would be included in the squad for Friday's Super 15 match with the Brumbies in Canberra.
With two matches remaining for Melbourne and a wooden spoon to avoid in their inaugural Super Rugby season, Cipriani's availability is ideal timing for the Rebels.
His disciplinary issues have coincided with the Rebels dip in form, with a 40-3 loss to the Stormers last weekend the club's seventh straight defeat.
Rebels' Wallaby back Mark Gerrard said off-field support for Cipriani was now the most important element to getting the Englishman back on track.
"Obviously the last few weeks have been fairly distracting for Danny and a little bit for the playing group," Gerrard told reporters.
"The calibre of player he is, we know what we can do with him (back in the team).
"It's the support off the field first and foremost that will go a long way to helping him and helping this football club."
Capped at 20, Cipriani was hailed as a superstar in the making only for a chaotic social life to impede his progression.
Just months into his new life in Australia, club officials said he broke team rules by going out late twice in a row after a April 30 defeat in Sydney, and then missed a training session.