Tag Archives: rebels

Australia stars Kurtley Beale and Cooper Vuna suspended after Melbourne Rebels team bus brawl

Two Wallaby stars suspended for punch-up on team bus after embarrassing club loss

By
Gerard Brand

PUBLISHED:

12:48 GMT, 24 March 2013

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UPDATED:

13:23 GMT, 24 March 2013

Australia utility back Kurtley Beale and fellow Wallaby Cooper Vuna have been suspended by the Melbourne Rebels after an incident on their team bus.

It followed the side's embarrassing 64-7 loss to the Durban-based Sharks in South Africa on Saturday.

The Rebels said in a statement Sunday that an internal investigation resulted in Beale, who did not play in the match due to a broken left hand, and winger Vuna being ordered to return to Australia.

Punching above their weight: Rebels were torn apart by Sharks in Durban

Punching above their weight: The Rebels were torn apart by Sharks in Durban

Kurtley Beale

Cooper Vuna of the Rebels

Suspended: Kurtley Beale (left) and Cooper Vuna (right, white shirt) will not play until the matter is resolved

Rebels coach Damien Hill said both Beale and Vuna had broken team protocols and as a result cannot be part of the team 'until the disciplinary process is complete.'

He added: 'The club will not tolerate this type of behavior and I am embarrassed for everyone associated.'

The Rebels launched a probe after it emerged that Beale may have punched Vuna in an altercation on the team bus.

Officials initially refused to name the individuals involved but tweets subsequently deleted by Vuna suggested Beale had assaulted him.

'I need to leave right now, this ain't for me! I tried to help someone but got punched so instead of putting him in hospital il [sic] leave!' Vuna posted in the early hours of the morning.

Catch up: Rebels are currently third bottom of the Super 15 league

Catch up: Rebels are currently third from bottom of the Super 15 league

But Hill added: 'The Club will not tolerate this type of behaviour and I am embarrassed for everyone associated with building this Club.'

Reports of the confrontation came after Hill had questioned whether his players had pride in the jersey.

'Our guys just didn't show up and it's quite embarrassing to be honest,' he said after his side's mauling at the ABSA Stadium.

'It's probably the worst defeat I've ever been associated with through the club, and I'm really questioning the pride these guys have in the jersey.

'Even though it's a new team, you've got to be prepared to leave blood on the field when you're playing a team like the Sharks. And our guys didn't.'

John Terry affair must not derail battle to defeat racism – Des Kelly

Terry affair must not derail battle to defeat racism… so let's stop the schism

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UPDATED:

01:15 GMT, 29 September 2012

It's not a simple case of black and white. It never is. The John Terry ban, the ongoing controversy and the trail of deceit and contradiction this circus has left behind surely demonstrates that to us all.

The row has predictably divided fans on club lines. But far more worrying is the talk that certain black players now believe their interests can only be served within the game by the creation of their own separate players' union.

The rebels are even threatening to
orchestrate a boycott of the FA's Kick It Out anti-racism campaign in
protest at the 'lenient' ban dished out to Terry. What a dreadful call
that would be.

Bitter irony: John Terry (left) and Ashley Cole promote the FA's anti-racism campaign

Bitter irony: John Terry (left) and Ashley Cole promote the FA's anti-racism campaign

It might not be as overtly ignorant
as Terry's foul-mouthed tirade at Loftus Road, but the decision would
have ramifications which could be far more damaging in the long term.

Terry's four-game suspension is
undoubtedly soft on the face of it, not least because of the precedent
set by the eight-match ban served by Luis Suarez for a comparable
incident.

But those black players agitating for
a breakaway (mostly ex-pros in the media, I hear) should at least
recognise that the game has acted where the courts could not.

It may not be enough for some, but
then it is hard to recall a single occasion when any FA verdict was met
by universal acclaim.

More importantly, however
well-intentioned the motives, I can think of nothing more
counterproductive, nothing designed to take football backwards after
years of progress, than an official schism within the game drawn up on
racial lines.

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As far as I'm concerned, Terry spun a
yarn from day one about his clash with Ferdinand, did his damnedest to
wriggle out of admitting fault, found he could not back down, but got
lucky in court because there was no additional camera evidence.

The fact that he finally received an
overdue slap from the FA this week is to be commended. That doesn't mean
the issue isn't riddled with discrepancies, self-interest,
misinformation and now a fair share of political posturing, too. But let
me set out my wider position.

I'm bewildered by the concept of
racial prejudice. Why would you automatically dislike someone just
because of the colour of their skin, when it is far better to take the
time to understand their personality and find genuine reasons to despise
them

Which leads me back to Terry. I have a
problem with the sort of human being who would throw about racist
insults, dissemble about the circumstances in which they were exchanged
and then portray himself as some kind of 'victim' in the aftermath.

Did he use disgusting words on a football pitch Yes. So did Ferdinand, but Terry veered into issues of race.

Should we condemn Terry for that Definitely. Was the alibi that he was only repeating what he'd heard plausible Not remotely.

So the FA had to punish Terry, even
though the courts could not. If they had followed the magistrate's lead,
every racist insult exchanged on a pitch could be excused by a claim
that 'I was only repeating what I thought he'd said to me'.

Loophole lawyers would have been all over it.

Even so, Terry's management company
still released a slippery statement claiming: 'Mr Terry is disappointed
the FA Regulatory Commission reached a different conclusion to the clear
not guilty verdict of a court of law.'

A 'clear not guilty verdict' When
did that happen I recall the chief magistrate, Howard Riddle, saying in
his summary: 'Mr Terry's explanation is, certainly under the cold light
of forensic examination, unlikely … but there being a doubt, the only
verdict the court can record is one of not guilty.'

The only 'clear' aspect is the court
let Terry go because they could not prove unequivocally he had used the
word 'black' as a direct insult. But the FA could rely on the 'balance
of probability', which is essentially common sense.

'Footage don't lie': Anton Ferdinand (left) broke his silence on the Terry verdict on Twitter

'Footage don't lie': Anton Ferdinand (left) broke his silence on the Terry verdict on Twitter

As Ferdinand himself blurted
ungrammatically on Twitter yesterday: 'Footage don't lie'. And like that
mangled sentence, the FA response may not be perfect, but they were
able to react in a manner beyond the court's power.

Of course other inconsistencies
remain. While it is admirable that the FA is being proactive on the
issue of racial abuse, it is unfortunate their hierarchy is about as
ethnically diverse as a country and western music festival.

They will also have to come up with
some forceful logic in their written report to explain why Terry was
handed a four-match ban when Liverpool's Suarez was initially suspended
for 12, reduced to eight on appeal.

I'd like to think the difference in
sentencing was down t o Liverpool's crass decision to inflame tensions
and parade in Suarez T-shirts as the FA considered its verdict.

Unfortunately, right now it just
looks like they may have bottled it. Terry has been encouraged to
apologise, but for what For being caught The time for Terry to say
sorry was when footage first emerged of him shouting 'you f****** black
****' at an opponent.

Any line he peddles now, nearly a year on, would look ridiculous.

We can get bogged down in the
four-game ban, and hold up other punishments, but the stigma of being
branded a racist is nigh-on impossible to shake.

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But colour isn't the whole issue. Or
it shouldn't be. Character is also part of the mix. John Barnes has some
fascinating views on this subject.

I don't agree with everything he
says, but Barnes was astute when he told Keys and Gray on talkSPORT on
Friday: 'We're just getting better at hiding racism. All Terry had to do
was keep his mouth shut. That's where we are.'

Even discussing issues of race in the
media can be a problem. And although I continually hear people talk
about zero tolerance, it's usually more textured than that. As Barnes
says, black people can be racists too.

'If I saw an Indian football manager
walk into a dressing room wearing a turban I would question him more
than i f a white, blue-eyed German boss turned up be cause of our
cultural expectations,' he admits.

'Ninety-nine per cent of us, me
included, are unconscious racists, because we have an opinion on someone
based on history, what we have witnessed, and what we've seen on
television. We all think it, but don't hear it any more.'

True. But, as I have argued with
Barnes in the past on air, if we don't hear it then surely that's a
start. The ex-Liverpool player rightly wants to tackle the 'root causes'
of racism rather than its audible expression, but this takes time.

Dealing with the abuse and making
that socially unacceptable is a vital step along the way. When Rio
Ferdinand retweeted a comment that Ashley Cole was a 'choc ice' – black
on the outside, white on the inside – to me, he was effectively
endorsing a racist remark.

What does 'white on the inside mean'
anyway Cole is the same inside as you or me. You can decide whether you
like him or not, but his 'race' has nothing to do with it.

People are now wondering whether
Terry could ever play for England again. It would be tough for him. But
do we damn people forever for one stupid and offensive remark

Suarez still plays for Uruguay. Is it
racist to assume they apply a lower standard there The fact that Terry
has huffed off the international stage actually solves a selection
dilemma for Roy Hodgson.

Football is a gigantic, rainbow-hued
game of Twister. It's not perfect, but the sport is about as near to a
United Colours of Benetton advert as we have in mainstream society.
There should be more black managers at the top, but that change will
filter through in time.

It might need a push, but it will
happen. Yet, despite the occasional flare-up and its obvious flaws, we
should recognise that the stars of this sporting show are paid on merit,
regardless of colour or social class.

They are rewarded for ability, not
their schooling, their ancestry, or the fact that they can afford to get
into a club, or the colour of their skin. Name another industry that is
quite as open to all Football is our greatest melting pot. So melt a
bit.

Please just stick to the golf

There may be a more lifeless opening ceremony in existence than the ritual the Ryder Cup organisers exhume and dump on a cold slab every two years, but I've yet to sprinkle quicklime on it.

Watching a tweed-clad Justin Timberlake host the occasion in Medinah as if he were at an undertakers' convention in Bracknell was simply excruciating, and the last vestige of any street cred he may have possessed dropped faster than a portfolio of Facebook shares.

Dressed like an undertakers' convention in Bracknell: Justin Timberlake hosts the Ryder Cup bash

Dressed like an undertakers' convention in Bracknell: Justin Timberlake hosts the Ryder Cup bash

So a word of advice before Gleneagles 2014: cut the speeches from the array of boring suits. Cut the utterly pointless procession of wives. Just introduce the players, get a decent band to knock out a couple of tunes, make sure Trevor Nelson is kept as far away from any microphone as possible, and then set off some fireworks.

There's your opening ceremony. Job done. Thank God there's some golf being played at last – because that is truly wonderful and full of life.

Pardew's worth it

A lot can happen in eight years. Roll back to 2004 and Charlton Athletic were playing Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

Cast in that light, Newcastle's decision to hand manager Alan Pardew and his backroom team contracts until 2020 might be regarded as the greatest show of blind faith since Elizabeth Taylor walked up the aisle for the eighth time. But I disagree. The club have laid down a solid foundation for success.

Apple computer genius and co-founder Steve Jobs knew a thing or two about empire-building and he said: 'Even a small thing takes a few years. 'To do anything of magnitude takes at least five years – more likely seven or eight.'

Pardew now has a rare chance to prove it.

Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale in hotel "scuffle" with security staff

Police look into hotel 'scuffle' involving injured Australia stars Cooper and Beale

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UPDATED:

08:40 GMT, 8 June 2012

The Australian Rugby Union have confirmed they are investigating an incident involving Wallabies stars Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale at a Brisbane hotel on Thursday night.

The pair were reportedly caught up in a scuffle with security guards at the Victory Hotel. Police were called to the scene but no arrests were made at the time, although they are investigating the incident.

'We’ve been made aware of an incident overnight and are still making our own enquiries,' an ARU statement read.

Crocked: Quade Cooper

Crocked: Quade Cooper

Recovering: Kurtley Beale

Recovering: Kurtley Beale

'As a matter of process the issue will be referred to an ARU disciplinary review procedure. We have nothing further to add at this stage.'

The incident has come less than 48 hours before the Wallabies take on Six Nations champions Wales at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Beale and Cooper are not part of the Wallabies side for that clash but the incident is unwanted for both players, who are currently in rehabilitation from injuries.

Shock: The Wallabies face Wales on Saturday after losing to Scotland on Tuesday

Shock: The Wallabies face Wales on Saturday after losing to Scotland on Tuesday

Beale is recovering from shoulder surgery and was staying with the team in Brisbane in the hope of recovering in time for the second Test against Wales in Melbourne next week.

The incident could jeopardise the Melbourne Rebels playmaker’s chances of making the squad for that game and possibly the rest of the series.

Cooper, who has played one-and-a-half games since a knee reconstruction, was released from the Wallabies camp last weekend to continue working on his fitness for the rest of the Super Rugby season and the Test matches later in the year.

"Grown up" Danny Cipriani vows to dazzle at Sale

I'm no longer a Rebel! 'Grown up' Cipriani vows to dazzle on the pitch at Sale

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UPDATED:

08:40 GMT, 2 May 2012

Danny Cipriani believes he will return
to England 'a better player and a better person' following his 18-month
stint with Melbourne Rebels.

The England international fly-half
will be released early from his Rebels contract and link up with his new
club Sale Sharks when pre-season training starts on June 6.

Back in town: Danny Cipriani has returned to England after a stint at Melbourne Rebels

Back in town: Danny Cipriani has returned to England after a stint at Melbourne Rebels

Cipriani's time in Australia was occasionally overshadowed by off-field incidents, while he has dropped out of England contention behind players like Owen Farrell, Charlie Hodgson and Toby Flood.

But he insists that a move back to the Aviva Premiership is exactly what he needs at this stage of his career.

'I just want to make the news for what I do on the rugby field,' Cipriani told the Manchester Evening News.

'I guess, when it comes down to it, I've got quite a lot to prove to myself as I know where I can be and what I can do, and I want to achieve that with Sale.

'I think I will be coming back as a better player and a better person for the experience of playing with Melbourne.

'I've done a lot of different things in the 18 months I've been out in Australia, and it has all been part of growing up, I guess.'

Cipriani has dropped out of England reckoning

Forgotten man: Cipriani has dropped out of England reckoning

Cipriani, 24, will be back in England later this month ready to launch his Sale career after signing a three-year contract in March.

'As for aims and ambitions, all I really care about is winning and trying to win as many Premierships and Heineken Cups as I can. That is the main thing for me,' he added.

'I was very fortunate to win a few trophies when I was younger at Wasps, and having got used to winning ways at such an early age, it's all I really want and what I strive for as a player.'

Cipriani won the last of his seven England caps four years ago, and he has underlined a desire to play Test rugby again.

'Playing for England again is a huge goal of mine. but my performance and focus has to start at my club and right now all my energies are on pre-season with Sale,' he said.

'Hopefully, if I can help Sale get off to a good start next season, other things will take care of themselves. But for me, I've got to simply focus on doing the best I can for Sale.

'I want to do the best I can for Sale and to help them achieve some great things, and I firmly believe that the best is yet to come.'

Stuart Lancaster: Danny Care could tour South Africa with England

I'll take Care if needed… England boss Lancaster ready to recall shamed scrum-half

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UPDATED:

17:33 GMT, 1 May 2012

Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care will be considered for England's summer tour of South Africa by head coach Stuart Lancaster.

The 25-year-old missed this season's Six Nations Championship following a series of off-field controversies.

One matter remains the subject of police inquiries but, as Sportsmail revealed last week, Lancaster has met with the player and is prepared to offer him another opportunity, form permitting.

Troubled: Danny Care (centre) has been arrested on more than one occasion this season

Troubled: Danny Care (centre) has been arrested on more than one occasion this season

Lancaster said: 'Danny Care is someone I have met recently and I am pleased with what he is doing off the field in terms of working hard to force himself back into contention.

'I had a positive meeting with him and he is one I will consider for the tour.'

England play three Tests against South Africa in June during a five-match trip.

Lancaster, who confirmed the temporary appointment of Mike Catt to his coaching staff, has said he intends to pick a squad of 42 players. His initial selection will be named next week but changes could be made as a result of injuries with some club fixtures still outstanding.

Facing the media: Stuart Lancaster at a conference at Loughborough University on Tuesday

Facing the media: Stuart Lancaster at a conference at Loughborough University on Tuesday

Fly-half Danny Cipriani, who will join Sale Sharks next season, is unlikely to force his way into the reckoning following his early release by Melbourne Rebels.

Lancaster said: 'Danny Cipriani is another one but I think the next step for him is to go to Sale, do the pre-season.

'He is in a competitive position. Hopefully he will earn the right to get back in there next season.'

Much to ponder: Lancaster faces a tough tour

Much to ponder: Lancaster faces a tough tour

Flanker James Haskell, who will next season rejoin Wasps from Super 15 side Highlanders, is in Lancaster's thoughts although he has just been hit with a three-week ban for punching.

'James Haskell will be coming back into equation,' Lancaster said. 'I have spoken to him about his availability. James has a three-week ban – his next game would be May 26, then he will play a Super 15 on June 2 and then join us, if selected.'

Lancaster is already without a number of players through injury and confirmed that Leicester flanker Tom Croft is the latest casualty. Croft was carried off on a stretcher in a neck brace during his side's victory over Harlequins on April 21.

Lancaster said: 'He won't be available for the tour, that neck injury is sufficiently serious to rule him out.'

Other missing injured players include Rob Webber, Courtney Lawes, Tom Woods, Tom Croft, Joe Simpson and Charlie Sharples.

Northampton forward Calum Clark is suspended. Leicester centre Anthony Allen, London Irish prop Alex Corbisiero and Harlequins winger Ugo Monye are also currently sidelined but Lancaster hopes they could be fit to tour.

James O"Connor waits on scans ahead of Scotland and Wales Tests

Australia star O'Connor waits on scans ahead of Scotland and Wales tests

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UPDATED:

11:04 GMT, 1 May 2012

Australia's James O'Connor must wait at least three weeks before having scans on his lacerated liver to determine whether or not he'll be available for selection for tests against Scotland and Wales next month.

The Wallabies and Melbourne Rebels utility back spent several days in a Sydney hospital receiving treatment after being accidentally kneed by New South Wales flyhalf Berrick Barnes as they contested possession in a Super 15 match on April 21.

May day: The Australia ace speaks to assembled members of the media on Tuesday

May day: The Australia ace speaks to assembled members of the media on Tuesday

He was ruled out for at least six weeks, meaning he's unlikely to play before Australia opens its international season against Scotland on June 5.

The 21-year-old O'Connor on Tuesday said he was lucky the damage was confined to his liver and he wasn't likely to have any long-term effects.

With test incumbent Quade Cooper sidelined since the World Cup with a knee injury, O'Connor had been expected to figure in selection as starting flyhalf for the Wallabies.

Over the line: O'Connor must wait at least three weeks before having scans

Over the line: O'Connor must wait at least three weeks before having scans

Barnes is now the most experienced candidate to take over at No 10.

'I've got a couple of decisions to make in the next few weeks,' O'Connor said.

'We've got a scan in about three and a half weeks to determine whether I can hopefully come back for the test matches or make myself available to be fit.'

O'Connor said his liver was repairing itself and he was able to avoid surgery.

'My body took over. There's a bit of blood clotting which is good. All the bleeding is contained – nothing leaked out into my stomach. So it was a win in that way.'

O'Connor has been barred from all training until he is cleared.

Danny Cipriani leaves Melbourne Rebels

Cipriani heads home after leaving Melbourne Rebels eight games early

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UPDATED:

07:50 GMT, 30 April 2012

Former England fly-half Danny Cipriani has confirmed he is leaving Melbourne Rebels.

Cipriani, who has played seven Tests for England, was set to leave the team at the end of the season after signing a three-year deal with Sale Sharks last month.

The 24-year-old former Wasps player said via Twitter: 'Going to be sad to leave all my team mates. Made some friends for life over here.. The back room staff at the rebels don't get enough praise.

On the move: Danny Cipriani has left Melbourne Rebels and is heading to Sale

On the move: Danny Cipriani has left Melbourne Rebels and is heading to Sale

'Loved my time in Melbourne @rebel-army and the fans having been truly amazing. So I thank u for all your support. Thank u.'

Cipriani, the first England international to join an Australian Super Rugby team, had a troubled first year with Melbourne in 2011 and was sidelined for a month due to off-field disciplinary issues.

However, he appeared more settled this season, seemingly relishing his growing combination with Australia internationals James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale, although injury problems have prevented him earning a consistent run in the Rebels team.

He was retained for this season despite the arrival of star Wallabies backs James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale.

Heading home: Cipriani has played his last game down under

Heading home: Cipriani has played his last game down under

But even with O'Connor ruled out until June due to liver damage, the club have opted to pay out the remainder of Cipriani's contract, with eight rounds of the regular season remaining.

Although the Rebels are yet to release an official statement on the contract termination, a disciplinary breach is not believed to have been a factor.

Cipriani, who made 18 appearances during his two years in Melbourne, leaves with the Rebels fourth in the five-team Australian conference.

They are 13th of 15 teams in the overall standings, with two wins from eight attempts.

Danny Cipriani stars for Melbourne Rebels

Cipriani seals Sale switch then stars for Rebels… but comes off injured

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UPDATED:

11:57 GMT, 23 March 2012

Danny Cipriani put in an impressive display for Melbourne Rebels to help them end a 12-match losing streak, days after he sealed his return to English rugby with Sale.

The fly-half set up Lachlan Mitchell for the first try of the match and got on the scoresheet himself, by charging 40 metres to score beneath the posts.

Cipriani's game was tainted by what appeared to be a hamstring injury sustained during his dash over the line and he was substituted soon afterwards.

Slick moves: Danny Cipriani celebrates after scoring his try

Slick moves: Danny Cipriani celebrates after scoring his try

The Rebels were leading 21-0, but ended up staring down the barrel of a defeat at 27-29 down.

A late penalty from Mark Gerrard secured them a nerve-racking 30-29 victory.

Cipriani has cut a controversial figure during his time in Australia, with one incident seeing him suspended after breaking a team curfew.

The 24-year-old has signed a three-year deal with Sale, after also being linked to London Irish and Leicester.

Points on the board: Cipriani leaps over the line

Points on the board: Cipriani leaps over the line

Aim: Cipriani's target is to be in the England 2015 World Cup team

Aim: Cipriani's target is to be in the England 2015 World Cup team

Sale coach and chief executive Steve Diamond was delighted with the capture of the former Wasps No 10.

He
said: 'Quality signings such as Danny are a massive statement of intent
from the Sharks as we aim to become a Super Northern club.

'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 fulfil his aspirations to be the number one fly-half in England by the time of the 2015 World Cup.'

However, England interim coach Stuart Lancaster has warned Cipriani that he will need the right attitude if he is to break back into the team.

'I don't think Danny is any different to any young players who want to play for England,' he said.

'He will come back and have to do what every other player will have to do and that is play well for his club, try and get himself into the Saxons and then into the senior squad.

'If he does do that then it is about buying into the culture.

'If people don't buy into it – it doesn't matter whether it's Danny or anyone else – there are plenty of players on the list.'

Danny Cipriani hopes Melbourne Rebels form will earn him an England recall

Rebel with a cause: Cipriani hopes form Down Under will earn him an England recall

Danny Cipriani is hoping his performances with the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby this season will earn him a return to the international stage.

Cipriani was exiled from the England team under former manager Martin Johnson after winning seven caps for his country in 2008 and he moved to Melbourne aiming for a fresh start last season.

The 24-year-old's fondness for nightlife, which many considered to be a contributary factor to his continued absence from the international stage, also got him into trouble in Australia, however.

Doing it down under: Danny Cipriani hopes his form for the Rebels will lead to an England recall

Doing it down under: Danny Cipriani hopes his form for the Rebels will lead to an England recall

Having been fined for a nightclub incident and excluded by the Rebels for a month for breaches of curfews last year, Cipriani said he was going to be guided by the team ethic on and off the field this season.

'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,' he said.

'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.

In the past: Cipriani made his debut for England in 2008

In the past: Cipriani made his debut for England in 2008

'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.'

Cipriani has been linked with a move back to England with the Sale Sharks for next season after his two-year deal with the Rebels expires but said he had yet to decide on his future.

'I'm not too concerned about that. I've got a couple of weeks to decide,' he said.

Coming home Cipriani has been linked with a move to Sale, but says his future is undecided

Coming home Cipriani has been linked with a move to Sale, but says his future is undecided

Mixing moments of brilliance with some awful defensive play as the Rebels were handed the wooden spoon in their debut season, Cipriani said he was looking forward to playing with new backline recruits James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale.

'They're young and they're learning all the time,' Cipriani said. 'If they can improve they'll be frightening.'

The Rebels received a bye in this weekend's first round of Super Rugby matches and begin their campaign at home to the New South Wales Waratahs on Friday.