Armitage out to make amends
August 5, 2011
Armitage will hope to impress England boss Martin Johnson on Saturday © Getty Images
England's Delon Armitage insists he will be on his best behaviour as he prepares to relaunch his England career against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.
Armitage, 27, was banned twice last season, including an eight week suspension for shoving and abusing an anti-doping official which ruled him out of the Six Nations. The London Irish fullback enjoyed a fine introduction to international rugby in the 2008-09 season and the England management kept faith in him.
Armitage trained with the squad during his suspension and tomorrow gets his chance to start a Test for the first time in 17 months and press his claims for World Cup selection.
"It is no secret I have found it hard to manage by emotions," admitted Armitage. "I play the game with passion and sometimes with a little bit too much. That is what I have been working on. I like playing on the edge, it just needs to be a little bit controlled sometimes.
"The last year didn't go as well as I wanted it to. I am just glad I am here with an opportunity to get back in the squad. I want to play for England and nothing is going to stop me getting where I want to get. It has been a long wait for me.
"What happened, happened. I felt really bad about it but now I am back focused on playing well for England and trying to get into the World Cup squad."
Armitage made his Test debut in Martin Johnson's first match in charge, against the Pacific Islands, and he was unfortunate to miss out on British & Irish Lions selection in 2009 after an eye-catching season.
But as England continued to struggle, so Armitage began to lose his spark and then his form. Johnson and the England coaches eventually lost patience, substituting him during the drab Six Nations draw against Scotland in 2010 before dropping him altogether for the trip to France.
Armitage described that experience as the lowest point of his career and that being axed, although nothing he did not expect, had left his confidence "broken". Armitage has won a handful of replacement caps since but only now does he feel back to his best and ready to make an impact again for England.
"That seems like a long time ago now. I am really confident, raring to go. I am excited about this weekend and all that is forgotten. It is about the future and playing for England," said Armitage. "I have been working really hard and my aim was always to get back in the squad and play for England.
"I want to get back to that feeling again, that enjoyment. There is nothing better than wearing the England 15 shirt every weekend. This will be a great occasion, having not played at Twickenham for a while. It will be amazing in front of a sell-out crowd."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton