» I’m fully focused on Gloucester _ Cipriani Sport
Gloucestershire Live head of sport Rob Iles sat down with fly-half star Danny Cipriani to discuss his England experience, his American retreat and his return to training at Gloucester
DANNY Cipriani is looking ahead to his second season at Gloucester after an eventful summer. After being crowned Premiership Player of the Season as the Cherry and Whites finished in the play-offs last term, Cipriani was part of England’s pre-world Cup training squad but was dropped before head coach Eddie Jones named his 31-man squad for the tournament.
He then spent time in USA, hanging out with American sport stars, including tennis legend John Mcenroe, as well as people from the music and film industry while also doing some intense training. » How have you found being back in training after your break in the USA? »
I’m really enjoying it. I started really missing the boys about a week before my time was up. I feel like we’re much closer as a group and I think we’re really enjoying it.
There’s a lot of buy-in and I think we’re doing pretty well for pre-season. It’s exciting to go into the season. » How did the squad welcome you back?
It was just like normal. They’ve been awesome, everyone’s been outstanding, everyone’s been working hard.
We’ve got different groups of some » long-term injuries coming back, some short-term ones and boys training and the blend of everyone mixing and motivating each other has been pretty beautiful to see.
» What did you feel was the benefit to going to the USA as opposed to getting back in training with a ball in hand? I’ve been getting the ball in my hand for the last 15 years so hopefully I haven’t forgotten how to do that!
It was just more to get a break away from rugby, it’s been seven years now of every year training, not getting much of an off-season and making sure you’re ready for this bit, it might be a tour with England, it might be a World Cup camp in 2015 and I just felt like for me to spend some time away to truly miss rugby.
Otherwise it just becomes monotonous and the same and I’m grateful that Johan (Ackermann, the Gloucester head coach) gave me the opportunity to do it because it means I come back rejuvenated to give it a big year.
» What sort of training were you doing there?
A lot of track work. I messaged Margot Wells (the England sprint coach), she would dictate what kind of track session I’d be doing. I was also doing a lot of underwater weights with Laird Hamilton and I’ve been doing that for the last six years, going out and spending time there, doing a lot of breathing work, sauna stuff, ice baths, a mixture of all kind of things, doing foot work in the sand.
It wasn’t necessarily just for rugby, it was more for life and really enjoying that side of training. It’s really exciting to have a great group of people over there I can spend time with.
And spending time in a 220-degree sauna...
There’s so many benefits from it and when you’re in that sauna, in such place of discomfort the conversation that flows from it is exceptional because people share, people talk.
You’re in there with nine other people from different walks of life that you’d never normally meet, they could be from businesses, the movie industry, other professional athletes. Everyone’s sharing, everyone’s learning and it’s a pretty exceptional group.
How did you come across John Mcenroe? Did you learn much from him?
We had a spikeball competition going for nine days in a row.
Me and my friends, Joakim (Noah, an NBA star) were against him and a guy called Nate and they couldn’t beat us. It was fun.
It was great to see his intensity, he’s such a great man and I really enjoyed his company.
You can learn from everyone if you’re open to it and that’s something I try to be so that you can control your response and make sure you’re aware of being able to learn from different types of people.
» Do you feel you could have done any more than you did to make England’s World Cup squad given that you were double Premiership player of the year last season?
I think you can always do more. I tried to do everything I could, I’m sure I could’ve played in certain ways. I’m happy with how we progressed last year as a group.
Eddie’s backed Fordy (George Ford) and Faz (Owen Farrell) since he’s come in. It doesn’t mean he’s right or wrong but you’ve just got to support that decision because you want the team to do well
I knew it was going to be difficult because Eddie’s backed Fordy (George Ford) and Faz (Owen Farrell) since he’s come in. It doesn’t mean he’s right or wrong but you’ve just got to support that decision because you want the national team to do well. They play very well together so it makes sense to have them in for so many years going into a competition.
There’s a lot of pressure on it, it’s something you rely on. It’s not like a wing, it’s the crux of the team so I can fully understand his decision and you can see that when they play together the benefit it has in an expansive way for England.
» When you were in the training camp, were you given a reason why you were asked to do the strength and conditioning training separately?
No, he was just doing that with certain players. I think it was me, Sam Underhill and Anthony Watson.
It was great, I got to train with Margot for the week, some good preparation. I wasn’t looking too much into it, I didn’t have much expectation and I enjoyed my time there even though it was only a couple of weeks and you could say that he’s been very diligent in every aspect and the intensity was there.
» Did you have a feeling at that point that you would not make it?
I didn’t have any expectation from the beginning, let alone that point. I don’t live my life with any expectations, it’s just how I go into conversations or situations because all I can control is my response and I’ve got to control my response in that moment, whether it be doing an army camp or doing things you don’t enjoy.
If you’re doing things you don’t enjoy, you can control your response in that situation and then you have a different flip on it because if you go in there with an expectation or preconceived idea that you’re not going to enjoy something, lo and behold you’re
not going to enjoy something.
How did you find the training camps then with camping?
It was really good. We had a great group, there was six of us, we learnt to put some tents up. They showed us how to take hair off a rabbit and cook it and chicken and it’s stuff that I would never have got a chance to experience before so that was different.
We had a great time with our tasks and did a great job as a group and I learnt a lot from the people we were learning from in terms of leadership and things like that because that’s what it was about.
Do you think that you can play for England again?
I’m probably the wrong man to ask because I’m not picking the team but in terms of me trying to be the best I can be that’s not going to stop.
The beauty of Johan giving me the time off this off-season, I really got a good break from it and when I’m in training now I’m all in and when I’m away from training I’m not consumed by my thoughts about rugby and overthinking things. I’ve got the opportunity to progress in other areas of my life which will hopefully make me a better rugby player as well.
You said it was a seven-year aim to make England’s World Cup squad, so do you reset that now?
No, I don’t think of it like that. I’m resetting things very regularly and often over and over and for me it’s about continual growth, continual learning, controlling my every day, being as present in the moment as I can.
I really enjoy things like trying to motivate other players in the squad and that’s what consumes my time and thoughts when I’m training, and when I’m not training it’s not rugby so I’m not thinking too much about that.
I’ll do everything I can to play well for Gloucester and if things come from that, then great.