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Danny Cipriani to return for Gloucester in Champions Cup against Munster

The Guardian logo The Guardian 10/01/2019 Paul Rees

Danny Cipriani wearing a football uniform: Danny Cipriani will return to the Gloucester starting XV on Friday night. © Getty Images Danny Cipriani will return to the Gloucester starting XV on Friday night. Danny Cipriani has made a timely return from injury and will start at outside-half for Gloucester on Friday night against Munster in a must-win European Champions Cup match at Kingsholm.

Gloucester will start the night at the bottom of the most closely contested of the five groups, but they will finish it at the top if they win by more than seven points with a try bonus point.

The England outside-half Cipriani, who is in talks with Gloucester about extending his contract which runs out next season, has not played since suffering a chest injury during last month’s Champions Cup match against Exeter at Kingsholm.

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Gloucester have faltered in Cipriani’s absence, a narrow victory at Newcastle followed by defeats to Sale and Leicester. A loss to Munster would mean they would be unable to qualify for the quarter-finals.

“The losses were disappointing, but my message to the players was that history can’t be changed and we can only control what is in front of us,” said the Gloucester head coach, Johan Ackermann. “It is good to have Danny back and the fact he is talking about extending his contract shows he wants to do well for us regardless of his outcome with Engand.”

The wing Ollie Thorley also returns for Gloucester, but in a week when the Rugby Football Union’s head medical officer called for significant law changes to make the game safer following a record number of serious injuries, Ackermann is without 15 players.

GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14:  An injured Danny Cipriani leaves the field during the Champions Cup match between Gloucester Rugby and Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm Stadium on December 14, 2018 in Gloucester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) © 2018 Getty Images GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14: An injured Danny Cipriani leaves the field during the Champions Cup match between Gloucester Rugby and Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm Stadium on December 14, 2018 in Gloucester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Exeter, who face Castres in the other pool match on Saturday, will be hoping that Gloucester at least prevent Munster from winning ahead of their final match at Thomond Park next week.

Exeter this week learned that their Argentina wing Santiago Cordero was joining Bordeaux-Bègles next season after the Chiefs were unable to match the Top 14 club’s offer because of the constraints of the Premiership’s salary cap.

“Santiago has been fantastic and done better than we could have hoped for, but there are financial realities involved in putting together a squad,” said the Exeter head coach, Rob Baxter. “We cannot offer extra contracts to everybody and strengthen the squad.

Video: Cipriani in talks with Gloucester (Sky Sports)

“I like the salary cap and the quality of competition it creates, but in France they link it to your income. In this country, it does not matter if you are losing millions of pounds or making millions, the cap does not change. There are probably some things that need sorting out,” added Baxter, whose club was the only one in the top-flight to make a profit last year.

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