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‘Manchester is a great place and I’m happy’: Sale Sharks’ Danny Cipriani on food, rugby and love for ‘eclectic’ city

Exclusive by Barrie White – Sports Editor

His journey may sound like a more sophisticated version of the side of Derek Trotter’s Robin Reliant – London-Melbourne-Manchester – but Danny Cipriani believes the North West is the right place for him.

Cipriani left the bright lights of London in 2011 to head down under to one of Australia’s biggest and best cities to form part of a new rugby franchise in Australia’s Super Rugby.

However, he soon found his way to Sale Sharks, and despite their awful start to the Aviva Premiership season, Cipriani feels he is left alone to live his life and help his side avoid relegation.

“Manchester is a great place and it’s a great bunch of boys, so we’re going to keep striving and doing what we’re doing,” said the London-born man.

“I go home to London to see family and friends, but apart from that, I spend all my time in Manchester.

“I think the city is kind of a ghetto or Notting Hill – but not in a bad way. It’s eclectic, with quite a lot of things to do. I’m always at the cinema doing one thing or another, and I’ve got a good group of friends here as well. 

“A lot of people do travel to Manchester – if you’re going to leave London, you go to Manchester, so a lot of people come up, which is nice.

“I’m still single. I’m happy where I am – definitely.

“I do feel I’m left alone here – it’s a lot different compared to London and not as full-on as there.”

A notorious tweeter, Cipriani can often be found asking for film reviews and restaurant recommendations for the city centre.

He lived in Spinningfields when he first moved to the city, but moving out to the suburbs doesn’t stop him making the trip back into the centre for food.

But as a professional sportsman, Cipriani admits there’s a lot he has to say no to, but doesn’t deny himself the odd little treat, and gave MM his three favourite haunts, including a guilty pleasure.

“I go into the centre as there is a load of restaurants,” said Cipriani, who started his career at London Wasps.

“You’ve got places like the Oasthouse, there’s steak joints and a nice Chinese at Wings – I can’t eat there too much because of the diet, but it is nice.

“My three top restaurants in the city? Australiasia (in The Avenue, Spinningfields) is top. The new one off Avenue North called Neighbourhood – the food is really good in there. I suppose Nando’s, but that’s for convenience and is everywhere.

“But in Manchester, if you want a cheap night and good food, go to Wings in Lincoln Square – the food is good there.

“When you go out and eat, you’ve got to be wise in what you pick, say when you go to a Sushi joint, you can pick healthily and eat wisely, or you can have loads of dumplings and things like that, which, in hindsight, isn’t bad for you.

“But it does add extra weight for no reason. But, it does taste great so you do have to have some self-discipline.”

On the pitch, Cipriani is leading Sale’s great escape, starring in Friday night’s tense comeback win against Exeter Chiefs which gave the Sharks a vital lifeline in avoiding the drop.

Cipriani admits he’s never been in this position before – though insists he’s learning from the experience all the time – and is working hard to improve both himself and the side.

But one thing Cipriani – capped seven times by England – is not short of is mental strength and self-confidence – something he drew on amidst recent criticism from departed boss John Mitchell.

“I’ve not been down the bottom end of the table,” said Cipriani, adept at both fly-half and fullback. “It’s a learning experience for me, and it continues to be so and it’s up to me to continue to improve my game and get out of this situation.

“I need to get my game management right, and I’ve been working on that in training, which is paying dividends.

“What John Mitchell said – for that one game, I didn’t perform adequately enough in the position I was in, but for the six before it, I was getting into some good form.

“Those types of things you do keep in the dressing room and you do talk to players about that – the management side of that was poor. Since then, I’ve started every game and things have gone alright.

“I’ve never really let anything like impact on my career. I’ve grown up with Shaun Edwards, Lawrence Dallaglio and Warren Gatland – some of the mentally toughest people I’ve met in my life.

“I think I proved to people the way I handled the John Mitchell situation, things have gone well since.” 

Image courtesy of Sale Sharks, via YouTube, with thanks.

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