Armitage wants France U-turn

Date published: January 10 2014

Delon Armitage believes Stuart Lancaster and England are missing a trick with their refusal to select French-based players.

Delon Armitage believes Stuart Lancaster and England are missing a trick with their refusal to select French-based players.

Full-back Armitage and brother Steffon, a flanker, have not been picked to play for their country since moving to Toulon, often pointing to the pair's inability to obtain adequate release dates.

But Armitage, who recently re-signed with the Heineken Cup champions through to 2016, says the club would allow him to fully comply with England's wishes, and attend all international training camps.

“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,” Armtiage told The Rugby Paper.

“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 being here.

“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.

“Speaking to Mourad before I renewed my contract, he said he'd never stop a player from going to internationals or doing what he needs to do. He gave me his word and that's all I can ask.

“My brother's one of the best number sevens in Europe and has still got a lot to offer England. If he had that 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.

“People are always going to make excuses but I just think it's wrong. I don't know if Toby Flood's coming over or not, but if he doesn't get picked by England because of that it would be really sad because he'll learn more by coming here.

“Wales pick their French players and they still keep winning the Six Nations. So if it can work for them, why can't it work for the English?”

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