Cipriani determined to lift for Rebels

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Melbourne Rebels five-eighth Danny Cipriani is determined to go out and have a good time this season despite attracting unwanted headlines in 2011.

The 24-year-old England international, who has seven Test caps, copped a one-month club ban for misbehaviour during last season.

Cipriani said on Sunday he wasn’t bitter about the reporting of incidents involving breaking a team curfew in Sydney and grabbing a vodka bottle from behind the bar of a Melbourne nightclub.

“I’ve got extra motivation this year to make sure I get in the England side and to really improve on my performances from last year,” Cipriani told reporters.

“I’m not going to change too much. Mistakes happen and stuff gets glamorised in the press.

“As journalists it’s their job. I don’t hold any grudges because it’s their job.

“But when you know the truth of the situation and the club and your friends do then it’s not so bad.

“This year we’ve got a very tight group. There’s a lot of things we’re going to do and we’re going to do them together.

“When we go off-field, we’re going to make sure it’s all as a team.”

The Rebels had a bye first round and will host NSW Waratahs on Friday night.

Cipriani is already juggling options for 2013, with British club Sale Sharks reportedly chasing the Londoner’s services.

“I’m not too concerned about that. I’ve got a couple of weeks to decide,” Cipriani said.

However if this is his final year with the Rebels, Cipriani wants to make sure it’s at least better than 2011, both personally and from a team sense.

His defensive efforts in the trial matches have suggested a lift in that area and Cipriani says new defensive coach John Muggleton has already had a big impact on the squad.

“We all agree that we’re going to improve on last year’s performances and get more wins than we did last year (three),” Cipriani said.

Meanwhile, Rebels coach Damien Hill concedes captain Stirling Mortlock won’t play on Friday.

Hill had told reporters last week that he’d give the 34-year-old former Test centre until Wednesday to prove his fitness.

Hill delivered the news while speaking on stage at their family day at Visy Park on Sunday.

Starting hooker Ged Robinson (calf) is in doubt but Hill is confident Wallabies fullback Kurtley Beale (hamstring) will be fit to play.

Cipriani confidently described the Rebels’ high-profile backline recruits Beale and James O’Connor as two of the best players in the world.

“They’re young and they’re learning all the time,” Cipriani said.

“If they can improve they’ll be frightening.”

© AAP 2014
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