Rebels: No offer to Cipriani
Melbourne Rebels coach Rod Macqueen says reports suggesting the fledgling Super rugby franchise have made an offer to out-of-favour England back Danny Cipriani are "premature".
The enigmatic 22-year-old was one of several northern-hemisphere players to meet with Rebels assistant coach Damien Hill in London last week, fuelling speculation England's out-of-favour fly-half is set to join the Melbourne-based franchise in 2011.
But Macqueen said of reports that contract talks have already begun: "It's more speculation than fact, and there's no doubt we've spoken to a number of players over in England and we're really going through a sorting-out process to see where our priorities lie. But it's still very early days and it'd be premature to suggest that we would be offering him a contract."
Quizzed on the interest level of those players who met with Hill, Macqueen replied: "There seems to be an enthusiasm to play Super 15 football and obviously that's good from our perspective.
"And we've gone to great lengths to make it quite clear that we're really after players that are coming for the right reasons, players who are going to have the right culture, and that's probably our main objective when talking to players."
The Rebels are permitted to sign up to 10 overseas players for the 2011 season - eight more than the four existing Australian provinces - in a bid to ensure they are competitive in their debut season.
But the World Cup-winning coach said: "From our point of view, we've made it very clear that our priority is Australian players and we're just trying to sort out that situation at the moment to see who's available in Australia.
"So that will be our priority but we really did need to know who's available in Europe and England, and that's why Damien Hill's just been over there.
"We really are looking more for Australian players - players who are eligible to play for the Wallabies. And certainly that's got to be first and foremost in our thoughts because Australian rugby really does need more depth."