Armitage pining for England recall
November 20, 2012
Steffon Armitage is shining for Toulon but is still off England's radar © Getty Images
Toulon flanker Steffon Armitage says he "will do anything to play again for England" despite Stuart Lancaster continuing to ignore his impressive form in the Top 14 Orange.
The openside scooped the prestigious Midi Olympique 'Oscar' for the best overseas player in the French top-flight on Monday evening but he is not currently in England's plans because he would not be available for training camps or Test matches outside of the international window.
With the current chosen No.7 Chris Robshaw receiving some criticism for his performance on Saturday against the Wallabies, the calls for England to turn to a 'fetcher' mould of openside are increasing. Some deem the Quins captain to be built more as an blindside while Armitage fills that 'fetcher' mould - prompting calls for him to get the nod for the international side.
"I am always hoping and I will keep hoping in the future that I do get another chance with England," Armitage said. "I hope there is a possibility there can be some negotiation (between England and Toulon) further down the line.
"I will do anything to play again for England. At the moment Toulon's where everything lies."
Asked if he would like England to try to come to arrangement with Toulon, Armitage added: "100 per cent yes. It is a big honour to put on the red rose."
Armitage won the last of his five caps back in 2010 and was largely ignored by then boss Martin Johnson when it came to selecting his Test side. Under the current regime the England management have raised questions about Armitage's fitness but the 27-year-old insists he has never been in better shape.
"If you want to keep your place at Toulon you have to be at the top fitness-wise," Armitage said. "I play nearly 80 minutes week in and week out in the Top 14. I feel like I am at the point where this is the fittest I have been in my whole career. And I am still trying to improve. You can never be fit enough."
Armitage has one more season after this on his Toulon contract and so the next 18 months will hold some important discussions, in which England is sure to feature heavily, but his current team-mate Jonny Wilkinson has championed him for a call-up while he remains in the Top 14.
"If Jonny reckons I should be (in the England team) then it makes me push even harder because I don't want to let Jonny down. Jonny is one of my heroes," Armitage said. "I knew what the risk was coming to France but I thought it would help my career more. I thought I needed that extra boost, to get back that feeling of always wanting more.
"I didn't think I could get that from staying at Irish. I knew it was going to be quite tough to come in and secure a starting place week in and week out.
"Toulon have players like Joe Van Niekerk and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, a lot of international players. I knew it was going to be hard but maybe because of them I am playing better.
"I have matured a lot in the game. In the past I didn't always make the right decisions on the pitch. I am learning to be in the right place at the right time."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September