Armitage hopes for Lions call
June 7, 2009
England speedster Delon Armitage touches down against Argentina at Old Trafford © Getty Images
Delon Armitage has told the Lions selectors that his mobile telephone is always on as he heads off for England's return international in Argentina next Saturday after scoring two tries against the Pumas at Old Trafford.
Armitage was in an upbeat mood after his significant contribution in a 37-15 win for England to cap an excellent first season on the international stage.
The fullback touched down twice in the second half to show the Lions selectors that he is in-form and eager to help out in South Africa if the need arises.
"I do watch the Lions. I have a lot of friends there. As a child you grow up watching the Lions and you don't stop watching just because you are not there," he said. "I am just happy they are doing well and doing the shirt justice. My phone is always on but I am happy to be involved with England."
He expects a far harder task in Argentina next Saturday and explained: "We will need to be 10 times better in defence and 10 times more physical. Over there it will be a battle and we know they will come back stronger."
England, besides the tries from Armitage and a first-half score from Matt Banahan, were heartened by a defence that made Argentina rely on the goal kicking of Juan Martin Hernandez.
Armitage said England had been disappointed by the performance against the Barbarians the previous week. "So not to let in a try against an international team like Argentina who are a very solid, physical side just shows how hard we worked on our defence in the week. We are really happy with that."
He has was helped in scoring his tries by the footballing skills of Mark Cueto. The wing side-footed the ball into the path of Armitage for his first try and then finished the match by a left-footed volley that gave the full-back the chance to race clear for the third try in the final moment.
The volley gave Cueto the opportunity to talk about his footballing days afterwards. He was on the books of Crewe Alexandra for a short while in his teenage days and a school colleague was Rob Hulse of Sheffield United.
However, Cueto claims to be a true 'Red' and reckoned that his volley would have done justice to any performance by Manchester United. "I would have loved to have played for United and I am still waiting for the phone call. But I won't hold my breath though.
"When I was growing up it was all football. I was a left-sided midfielder - a bit like Ryan Giggs. If I had managed to gain an opportunity it would not have been Ryan Giggs but Mark Cueto."
After his footballing jokes, Cueto felt the overall performance by England was a big improvement. "It was definitely in the right direction. It is difficult to keep the same XV on the pitch because of the knocks you take. Players are always coming in and out. Hopefully, we can keep the same squad together and kick on."
Cueto welcomed the introduction of Banahan on to the left wing. "He has the physique to play lock forward and took his try very well."
Banahan raced onto Armitage's chip ahead after Cueto's quick pass had given the full-back some space. The touchdown sparked a joyous celebration by the England debutant and he admitted afterwards that he would never forget the day. "I keeping pinching myself it is all true," he said.
Manager Martin Johnson made no apology for the style of play England produced to beat Argentina. Andy Goode contributed 22 points from the boot and some of the crowd whistled and booed when the kicking was overdone.
Johnson said: "It was a cagey first half in many ways but you have to make good decisions against Argentina because Hernandez can kick from anywhere.
"We had to be patient and take our points. When you have shots at goal against Argentina you must take them. You have to put pressure on the opposition. Andy Goode kept his composure very well because it's not nice when people are whistling you because they want to see running rugby, but you have to win the Test match."
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