Cipriani: Depression forced me away

Reuters - Sun, 21 Feb 18:09:00 2010

Danny Cipriani is moving to new Australian Super 15 side Melbourne Rebels partly to escape the "negativity" surrounding him in England, where his international career has gone backwards.

Danny Cipriani and his girlfriend Kelly Brook - 0

And the 22-year-old fly-half received a boost as his long-term girlfriend Brook announced that she will move to Australia with him.

Cipriani, who made a sparkling England debut two years ago but who now cannot even make the training squad, announced last week that he would leave Wasps at the end of the season and join the new franchise.

While his departure will be mourned by many in England who appreciate his natural talent and effervescence, elements the national team have lacked for years, manager Martin Johnson has shown little inclination to include Cipriani, usually relegating him to the second-string Saxons side.

"There has been so much negativity surrounding me, from coaches, pundits, all sorts of others. It has been depressing," he told the Sunday Times.

"I have never made any secret of the fact that I want to have a career with England. I have now lost 15 caps I could have won and I could have improved so much by now if I had been given the chance. The best way to get away from all the negativity is to go to Melbourne.

"My rugby has made me depressed and I have got to get back to feeling good about myself and back to being called confident, not arrogant. When I came through as an 18-year-old I could never have dreamt that I would feel so down about my rugby as I have been lately."

Dismissed by some as a man with a big ego who upsets team morale, Cipriani has cut a dejected on-pitch figure since his return from an horrific ankle injury.

Johnson has never publicly criticised him but with half a dozen fly-halves seemingly ahead of him in the pecking order, the player has decided to up sticks.

Cipriani, a regular in the social pages alongside his model and actress girlfriend Brook, hinted that a more understanding approach from the England camp might have helped.

"It is fair to say that I would have liked to be treated with a little more sympathy by people in the game. I would liked to have spoken to Martin a lot more. People write things about me every day and sometimes it would have been good to set the record straight," he said.

"I was interested in listening to Alex Ferguson discussing Cristiano Ronaldo. I am not for a moment suggesting that I am in his class as a sportsman but he was saying that every person in a team is different and they have to be treated differently -- not singled out for special attention, just different."

Cipriani has signed a two-year contract starting in February 2011 but said he was not moving for financial reasons as he had been offered three times as much to play in France.

Johnson has said anyone not available for the 2011 Six Nations would have no chance of selection for the World Cup in New Zealand later that year, but Cipriani has not given up all hope.

"I will be 23 when it happens, hopefully at a peak. I can be back for all the training," he said.

"I will have had experience of playing with and against some of England's biggest enemies, such as Dan Carter and Matt Giteau and all the others.

"The move will help not only help me to maximise my potential as a player, it will help me get away from some of the downs and rediscover myself."


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