It’s time for Danny Cipriani to start getting headlines for his performances on the pitch rather than his indiscretions off it, according to Sky Sports pundit Dean Ryan.
The former Gloucester coach believes the new Sale fly-half has it all to prove after joining the Sharks from the Melbourne Rebels, following an undistinguished 18 months Down Under.
Although Cipriani became the new Super 15 side’s top scorer with 122 points, he was criticised by Aussie pundits for his poor defence and was stood down for a month by the Rebels for disciplinary problems.
It is now nearly four years since Cipriani won the last of his seven England caps and Ryan thinks the former Wasps playmaker will have to work hard to win people over – starting with new Sale boss Bryan Redpath.
“I think he’s been getting headlines for all the wrong reasons and needs to start getting them for solid, consistent rugby,” said Ryan, who was talking ahead of the J.P Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series.
“I know Bryan very well and he will have no problem telling him what is required to play at this level for Sale.
“I think it would be foolish to make predictions, it’s for Danny Cipriani to say ‘this is what my rugby is about now, this is what I’ve learnt from the past’.
“If he gets it right, Danny has a lot of people in his corner and if he doesn’t get it right there is the same amount of people who will be critical.
“How he deals with it is interlinked with how Sale deals with it.
“I don’t think Bryan will allow Danny Cipriani to make it go wrong, I think they are a good side without Danny Cipriani.
“I think the challenge for Danny Cipriani is what do you want to be? Do you want to come back in, be a force in the Premiership and force your way back into international recognition.”
Cipriani isn’t the only star who will be pulling on the Sale jersey for the first time at the Salford City Stadium this autumn, with Ryan picking out Scottish lock Richie Gray as potentially one of European rugby’s biggest stars.
Openside flanker Hendre Fourie is also expected to make his comeback from a horror run of injuries, boosting Redpath’s re-jigged Sale squad.
“It’s all change and on paper they’ve got some exciting names and if you start looking through some of the signings Richie Gray coming in is phenomenal,” said Ryan.
“He’s one of the northern hemisphere’s shining lights and him coming to the Premiership is exciting.
“Like Gray, Hendre Fourie is coming back from injury will be like having a new player even though he’s 32 or something now.”
The J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby 7s Series kicks off on 13 July at Harlequins, with rounds at Sale Sharks and Gloucester Rugby, and the final at Bath Rugby. Visit: www.jpmorgan7s.com to find out more.