Ackermann responds to Cipriani rumours
PREMIERSHIP SPOTLIGHT: Johan Ackermann has dismissed speculation that Danny Cipriani could quit Gloucester in the off-season.
It was reported last weekend in the Rugby Paper that the out-half has a break clause in his deal which he can use one season into the two-year deal penned when he joined the Kingsholm club in 2018.
West country rivals Bath and Bristol were allegedly among the parties interested in Cipriani’s potential availability. However, Ackermann insisted the play-maker, out of favour for Eddie Jones’ England, is going nowhere.
“I can only speak on my behalf and what I know and that is that he’s signed for next season,” said the South African.
“I’m not aware of any release clauses so, according to me, Danny is here with us for the 2019-20 season. Post that I’m not quite sure, that’s an ongoing process with the club and with Danny.
“We have done our recruitment already and the squad is settled. When we talked about fly-half we said we’ve got Owen (Williams) and Danny settled and signed up.
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I’ve got no other information at the moment that is different, so I’m of the opinion that’s the fly-halves we’ll have available,” who admitted that any talks with Cipriani where between the player and the club led by director of rugby David Humphreys, not Ackermann.
“When it comes to contracting, if the club feels they need to incorporate me and bring me in then I’ll get involved. But when it’s a financial decision it’s not me that must make the budget work. It’s up to the club to make that and that’s where the process is at the moment. It’s between Danny and the club for beyond next season.
Gloucester returns to Premiership action this weekend having defeated third-place Harlequins in their most recent match. It leaves them just two points behind the Londoners and seven clear of fifth-place Sale in the play-off race.
Eliminated from the Champions Cup, Gloucester has only the Premiership to worry about unlike in previous seasons. But Ackermann refused to speculate whether not fighting in two competitions this season will help their league title hopes.
“It’s not a good thing if you look at in one sense because we wanted to be involved in Europe and taking the season further. Last season we had to mix the Challenge Cup quarter-final and semi-finals in with the season and we had the pressure for the first time.
“Until late in the season we were up in the fourth spot and people started talking about whether we would make the play-offs. It was a big challenge and I think mentally when the boys started to focus on the European Challenge Cup, we maybe lost a bit of focus on the Premiership. We speculated about how to handle that pressure.
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) March 19, 2019