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Armitage brothers look for Lions spot

Steffon ArmitageThe Armitage brothers have accepted they stand more chance of playing for the Lions than they do of getting a recall to Stuart Lancaster’s England squad.

According to stepfather John, the duo recognise that making a return to the international fold while they play in Toulon will not happen, regardless of the form they demonstrate.

Playing the best rugby of his career so far, there is little doubt that Steffon Armitage would be comfortably worth a spot in Lancaster’s England squad named this week but for the fact he plies his trade on the wrong side of the Channel.

But far from chasing the money, John Armitage revealed that Steffon left England and London Irish at a point when it was clear that he would never fit into the plans of the then England management.

“Stuart Lancaster has his views and they are pretty regimented. It seems to Steffon that he has more chance of going on a Lions tour than getting back into the England team,” said John Armitage.

“He never really got a chance with England. He and John Wells (forwards coach) did not get on well and even though he was doing everything he could to get back into the team it just wasn’t going to happen.

“When things broke down at London Irish – a combination of an injury and being dropped for a key Heineken Cup game – he made the decision to move to Toulon.

“He’s now starting every week in a team as good as Toulon and playing the best rugby of his career.

“He can’t get to all the training camps but if he is testing himself every week against the best in the world then you would have thought a spot could be found.”

While Steffon joined Toulon with Martin Johnson in charge of England, Delon’s departure a year later came under Lancaster’s tenure.

John Armitage admits Delon’s feisty nature has got him into disciplinary hot water, but says the double standards shown by Lancaster in comparison with his treatment of Danny Care only accelerated Delon’s move.

Delon was suspended from the England squad after an incident in a nightclub in Torquay, but unlike Care, who was arrested four times in six months, Armitage was never given the opportunity to make an international return.

“He had the issue with the Torquay nightclub and Lancaster told him he was suspended while it was hanging over him,” John added.

“Danny Care was told nothing would be happening and that he would be back in the summer.

“By the end it had got silly over here. In the game against Cardiff you can see that Gavin Evans  slipped which made it impossible for Delon to wrap his arms but it didn’t stop papers from laying into him. He has not had any problems since he got to France.”

PAUL EDDISON

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