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    Cipriani in nightclub probe

    2011-02-24 07:56

    Sydney - England international Danny Cipriani is under investigation by his Australian Super 15 team Melbourne Rebels over an alleged nightclub incident, officials said on Thursday.

    Reports said that management of the 161 nightclub in Melbourne asked the high-profile English recruit to leave the venue in the early hours of last Saturday following the Rebels' 43-0 loss in their debut Super 15 match against the Waratahs.

    Police were not called to the incident, team officials said.

    "We are looking into it and will speak to Danny but we won't be making any statement about it before (Friday's) game against the Brumbies," a Rebels spokesperson said.

    Cipriani, 23, had a reputation for a playboy lifestyle and string of celebrity girlfriends in the UK before he came to Australia to play for the Rebels, under Australian World Cup-winning coach Rod Macqueen.

    After a sensational start with Wasps he was selected for England in their opening 2008 Six Nations match against Scotland.

    But as so often in his short career he looked to have blown his chance when he was photographed leaving a nightclub after midnight, putting him on a collision course with England coach Martin Johnson, and he was dropped two days before the game.

    In February last year, Cipriani agreed to join newly-created Super 15 franchise Melbourne Rebels on a two-year contract after discovering he did not figure in Johnson's plans.

    Reports said that Cipriani has infuriated Melbourne coaching staff and team-mates by his off-the-field antics, as well as turning up late for training, which resulted in a recent discussion with senior players.

    Cipriani was only named among the replacements for the Rebels' opening match against the Waratahs last week, but got on the field when James Hilgendorf, preferred to him as the starting number 10, came off early with an injury.

    Rebels' Wallaby back Mark Gerrard said the English fly-half, who has played seven Tests, would again have to talk with senior players as well as management if the latest claims are proved correct.

    "As Rebels we try to hold ourselves to the highest degree in everything that we do and what happened will be dealt with by the senior playing group as well as staff and officials," Gerrard told reporters on Thursday.

    But Gerrard said he did not believe the latest Cipriani allegations would unsettle the Rebels ahead of their round two match against the Brumbies at home on Friday.

    "I don't think so, with Danny's personality he'll be fine," Gerrard said. "I don't think it's going to affect anyone and hopefully we'll play well tomorrow night."

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