Danny Cipriani: We’ve fixed ‘the puzzle’ at Sale Sharks
Sale Sharks star Danny Cipriani is enjoying life in the Aviva Premiership after returning from Australia last season
Danny Cipriani believes he’s completed ‘the puzzle’ at Sale Sharks after being several pieces short of his best form last year.
Cipriani returned to English shores for the start of last season after a two-year exile in Australia with Melbourne Rebels and was a bright light amid a generally gloomy season for the Sharks.
We have to find different ways to fix the puzzle and we’ve done that this year
However, despite a series of special displays – including a match-winning cameo in a thrilling Heineken Cup victory against Cardiff Blues – the fly-half was never quite at his captivating best.
That has changed this season, Cipriani at the fulcrum of a side that, with a few points here or there, could have been competing in the Aviva Premiership play-offs – they head into their final clash this weekend against at London Irish knowing that they can’t finish any higher or lower than sixth.
It has arguably been Cipriani’s best campaign since bursting onto the scene in the 2007-08 season with eventual champions London Wasps, but he admits playing stand-off at Sale is a different type of jigsaw to fill.
“When I was playing for Wasps it was more about strike running because we all had big forwards, carrying and breaking the line – next phase we were all on the front foot ready to go,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s a bit different with other teams, we have to find different ways to fix the puzzle and we’ve done that this year. It’s just about finding the formula.
“In the first season there were some games I was playing really well and there were others I wasn’t quite getting that consistency.
“That was frustrating because it was a new team, new players, new coach and we all didn’t quite spark as it were.
“In pre-season we all had honest conversations and said we all need to buy in and put our hands up, and make sure we’re all going in the right direction.
“The club gave me the responsibility in terms of where we were and I thrive on that.”
Cipriani counts Mike Forshaw and Bryan Redpath as the drivers behind his ever-improving play as well as tough-as-nails love from director of rugby Steve Diamond.
And the 26-year-old insists Diamond’s penchant for telling home truths keeps his and the rest of the squad’s feet planted firmly on the ground.
“Diams is an honest talker and we get on really well, he’s just shown what I can do and what I should do for the team,” he added.
“He expects this and that has honest conversations with people, he’s not one to hold back. He’s a director in quite a similar way he used to play, he’s quite dogged and just honest and up front.
“If it’s a brutal conversation with some people like I’ve seen him have, he has it with them. We’re all in a day and age where you take it on the chin and go and improve, and I’ve seen him do it at players.
“With me it’s slightly different, we’ve sat down and had chats and I went away and came back having a mindset of making sure I get better.”