Armitage out to restore his reputation
April 27, 2013
Delon Armitage swapped the Premiership for the Top 14 in 2012 © Getty Images
Toulon fullback Delon Armitage is determined to hit the headlines for the right reasons when his side tackle Saracens in the Heineken Cup semi-finals at Twickenham on Sunday.
The former England international swapped the Premiership for the Top 14 last year having seen his stock fall in the wake of a string of run-ins with disciplinary chiefs. But the 29-year-old has since gone some way to restoring his reputation as a key part of Toulon's armoury and is hoping to offer fans a reminder of his class on his return to English rugby's HQ.
"The last couple of years in England were not the best," Armitage told The Daily Telegraph. "It would be great to finish off well and to give people a different idea of me. I did leave under a bit of a cloud. I want everything that is written about me to be about what happens on the pitch. I've learnt a lot since I came here last summer, especially from the likes of Mr [Jonny] Wilkinson over there, about how you have to deport yourself off the field as well as on it.
"When you come from just being a club player and suddenly you're thrust into the big thing that is playing for England and all that goes with it, well, you can forget that you are in the public eye all the time. That's not to make excuses, just to explain that it has taken me a long time to realise all that. Kids do see you as a role model whether you do yourself. So, yes, I hope I've turned a page. I don't want people to have a bad image of me in their minds. I definitely have regrets about the way it finished."
Armitage, who has scored three tries on Toulon's passage to the final four, is relishing a return to Twickenham but is expecting a formidable challenge. "I didn't come to Toulon to relax and enjoy the weather. Everyone is here to win things. Sarries will be a tough nut to crack. They used to be a bit negative but they've been running in the tries. Joel Tomkins has settled in the centre, [David] Strettle and [Chris] Ashton are seeing plenty of ball, and scoring. It should be a cracker.
"Toulon have this reputation of big spenders, just like Manchester City. Well, like City, they are going to keep spending until they win something. It is up to us now to do the business. That's the pressure and expectation on you. You have got to deliver."
© 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