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Lancaster firm on overseas players

26th May 2014 17:58

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Support: Stuart Lancaster

England head coach Stuart Lancaster maintained his support over not selecting overseas players despite the form of Steffon Armitage.

Armitage was named European Player of the Year on Monday after winning the Man of the Match award in Saturday's Heineken Cup Final.

Lancaster reportedly visited the Toulon dressing room to congratulate Toulon after their victory in Cardiff and has previously met with Armitage in Toulon to discuss his position.

"I think it is a good rule and it's one I support as national coach," said Lancaster.

"That said, there are still exceptional circumstances that allow us to select an overseas player, so who's to say that this time next year if he's still playing as well, that the door might not be open?"

Focusing on those players selected to tour New Zealand, Lancaster reserved words for Freddie Burns and Danny Cipriani, one of who will start the 1st Test in Auckland. Lancaster also gave an update on the fitness of Billy Twelvetrees.

"Both Freddie and Danny have great opportunities to put a marker down as genuine international fly-halves," added Lancaster.

"Owen and Stephen Myler have been exceptional this season and they will be considered post these games this weekend.

"But now it's in Freddie and Danny's court. They've trained great so far so we're looking forward to seeing how they get on.

"Danny has done well, he's come up to speed; he's got to know the plays.

"He's built relationships with the players and he's been good - it's a similar defensive structure for him to the one at Sale. He's excited about being here.

"We'll make the decision on fly-half on what happens in training and what happens in the next week or so.

"That particular position, as with several others, will probably play out on the training field as opposed to what's happened before it.

"Billy (Twelvetrees) is going well. He hasn't trained yet, and it's unlikely he'll train (on Tuesday) before we fly, but we're optimistic enough to take him on the initial flight with a view to assessing him when we get out there.

"He's really going to have to be training fully at the start of that Test week in order to be considered.

"But he's certainly made enough progress to be under consideration for the first Test and definitely for the second, so that's why he's on the plane."

Lancaster also added that England were waiting for results on a scan for Mako Vunipola, who picked up a knock in the Heineken Cup Final.

Experienced hooker Dylan Hartley has also not been ruled out.

"Mako has a scan today and we'll see how it plays out in the next 24 hours," stated Lancaster.

"I think Saracens are more optimistic about Owen than they are about Mako, but we'll have to wait and see.

"We've named four hookers so far, but we've not ruled Dylan Hartley out yet. We want to give him the flexibility and the opportunity to go on the tour."

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