Armitage questions Lancaster's overseas stance
January 5, 2014
Armitage celebrates a try during the 2011 Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
Delon Armitage insists England are missing a trick by refusing to select overseas players for international duty - citing the example of himself and brother Steffon at Toulon as a prime example.
Lancaster's stance on foreign players is well known and looks likely to see Toulouse-bound Toby Flood drop out of England contention for 2014. And the Armitage brothers are well aware of the consequences of moving abroad, with neither selected to wear the Red Rose since either moved to Toulon. Lancaster and England cite the pair's inability to secure release dates, and the fitness concerns created by the unforgiving Top 14 league.
But Armitage has dismissed these as 'excuses' - claiming he has had assurances from Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal that he would fully meet England demands. The former London Irish full-back also told The Rugby Paper he does not see the logic of refusing to select players who are playing in a league full of some of the best talent in world rugby.
"I'll never say no to England and I think I'm playing the best rugby of my career over here, but it's disappointing how England look at it," Armitage said.
"Fair play if England want to have their guys in the country, but if you've got guys playing alongside world-class players in France, like Steffon and I do, why wouldn't you want to pick them? I certainly haven't gone backwards. From a development point of view, playing alongside guys week-in, week-out like Ali Williams, Bakkies Botha, Bryan Habana and Jonny Wilkinson - guys who know how to win World Cups - has been hugely beneficial.
"My brother's one of the best No.7's in Europe and has still got a lot to offer England. If he had the chance, I'm sure Mourad would release him. Last year we heard how Toulon players were unfit, how we weren't having enough game time or how the league in France wasn't as good as the Premiership, but then you look at the Heineken Cup final and there were two French teams in it."
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