Danny Cipriani is eager to make a big impression as he returns to his childhood club Wasps after six years away.
Cipriani left Wasps in 2010 and played for the Sale Sharks for four years where he rekindled his love for rugby. The 28-year-old still has ambitions to play Test rugby for England but for now he is focused on helping Wasps win some trophies.
“I felt very fortunate to start my career here and, off the back of that, win a couple of trophies straight away,” Cipriani told the Daily Telegraph. “I felt like it was always going to be like that, it felt easy but it didn’t pan out that way.
“Everything is different, whether it’s the training ground or the Ricoh. But for me it’s exciting to put the Wasps shirt on again and play for the club who I supported and started with as a kid.
“I’ve been in a team [Sale] for the last four years which helped me learn a lot and fall back in love with the game again. I will put forward as much of my experience as I can and hopefully as a squad we can build towards that legend of the Wasps, of the past. I’d definitely like to help win trophies and that’s one of the main reasons why I came to Wasps.”
Cipriani faces strong competition for Wasps' number 20 shirt from New Zealand Jimmy Gopperth, who led the club to their highest finish in the Premiership, third, since they won the title (with Cipriani in the ranks) in 2008.
That competition should bring out the best in both players and Cipriani knows it will be hard work to establish himself as the first-choice.
“Jimmy Gopperth was outstanding for us last season and it is not my job to keep players happy, it is my job to win things,” said Dai Young, Wasps’ director of rugby.
“Danny has got to get in the team and if he plays well, the other things [international rugby] can happen.”
Cipriani, despite encouraging notices for his part in England Saxons’ series victory over South Africa in June, has not made the cut for Eddie Jones’s 45-man Elite Player Squad. The head coach has had conversations with Cipriani, who has pledged to get his head down and work his way back into contention.
“Any English player wants to play for England, but if we win trophies with this club then the just deserts will come from that,” said Cipriani.
“Everyone is going to be pushing to reach the bar set by Eddie Jones and his squad. For them to go to Australia and do what they did shows that it’s working. Everyone is having to push their standards up.
“My focus is Wasps. We’ve got a big enough challenge trying to win silverware. In the last couple of years Saracens have set the bar and they are out on their own as No 1.”