Planet Rugby

Rowntree rules out Armitage selection

09th April 2014 07:17

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Graham Rowntree Training

Graham Rowntree: Backs England's selection policy

England forwards coach Graham Rowntree revealed that the national team will continue to overlook overseas-based players.

This despite Toulon flanker Steffon Armitage showing outstanding form in recent matches for the Top 14 club.

Armitage was Man of the Match in his side's 29-14 triumph over Leinster in their Heineken Cup quarter-final.

But due to England's policy of only picking players in exceptional circumstances he is unable to challenge Chris Robshaw for the openside flanker position.

Rowntree reiterated that England boss Stuart Lancaster will not be changing his mind anytime soon, but said their squad is still strong enough to win next year's World Cup.

"Our stance is quite clear - we want to promote those guys playing in England for obvious reasons," he explained.

"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."

With England set to face New Zealand in the first of a three-Test series on June 7, Rowntree is confident England will field a formidable pack.

"What will be will be," he added.

They're not great cards that we've been dealt, but we'll get on with it.

"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."

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