English Premiership Rugby club Sale Sharks have announced that 24 year old Melbourne Rebels fly half Danny Cipriani has signed a three year deal with the club.
The 24-year-old flyhalf will leave the Melbourne Rebels at the end of the current Super Rugby campaign and join the Manchester-based Sale Sharks on a three-year deal starting next season, the English club said Tuesday.
Cipriani was widely considered one of the hottest prospects in English rugby when he made a stunning debut for England in a Six Nations match against Ireland, but has won only six more caps.
He became the first England international to join an Australina Super Rugby team when he left London Wasps in 2010, looking to develop his game after injury and a loss of form saw him slip down the pecking order with England.
“Danny has been targeted by many European clubs but has chosen to be based in Manchester as he feels that the Sharks give him the best opportunity to fulfill his aspirations to be the No. 1 flyhalf in England by the time of the 2015 Rugby World Cup,” Sale chief executive Steve Diamond said.
Once viewed as the heir apparent to Jonny Wilkinson, who retired from international duty last year, Cipriani will have a number of other flyhalves blocking his way to a potential return to the England team in time for a World Cup the country hosts in 2015.
Owen Farrell ended the recently completed Six Nations as England’s No. 10, while Toby Flood and Charlie Hodgson are also rivals for the position.
Cipriani’s test career failed to kick on after he exploded onto the international scene with that assured display against Ireland.
But a serious ankle injury in May 2008 was followed by other minor setbacks, and by the time he decided to move to Australia, he was no longer even first choice for England’s second-string Saxons side.
His spell with the Rebels, who formed in 2011, has been marred by disciplinary problems, with the club standing him down for a month last season after a breach of discipline. He was, however, their leading scorer last season with 108 points.