England play down Armitage return
April 9, 2014
Steffon Armitage impressed for Toulon on Sunday © Getty Images
England coach Graham Rowntree has played down the chances of Steffon Armitage making an international comeback.
Armitage was named Man of the Match in Sunday's Heineken Cup quarter-final between Toulon and Leinster. His form prompted Will Greenwood on Twitter to call for Armitage to be re-introduced to the England set-up.
Armitage has five caps for England, but the last of those came back in 2010. England's current stance is to overlook players who plying their trade overseas and with Armitage at Toulon, it would take 'exceptional circumstances' for England to call him up again.
"Our stance is quite clear - we want to promote those guys playing in England for obvious reasons," Rowntree told Press Association. "While they are playing well, we're quite content with that. It's Steffon's decision completely and I'm comfortable with our stance.
"We've got a wider group that is good enough to win the World Cup. And we're showing that we're going the right way towards doing that."
England's squad will be depleted for their first Test against the All Blacks in June as the Aviva Premiership final is just seven days before the game in Auckland. England will overlook players who are turning out in that match but Rowntree is confident his side can still do a job.
"What will be will be. They're not great cards that we've been dealt, but we'll get on with it," Rowntree said. "One thing we've shown over the last couple of years is that we'll throw guys in there if we feel they're good enough, regardless of age.
"The situation with the first Test is a major, major plus for us. We can have a look at a good group of players. Over the last four months the group has expanded because people have come in and taken their chance.
"We had a perceived under-strength team that was nearly good enough to win the Six Nations. We're confident now more than ever in the group of players that we have."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape