Armitage frustrated by conservative England

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The Independent Online

Delon Armitage believes his chronic loss of form during the RBS 6 Nations was partly due to the welter of safety-first instructions issued by Martin Johnson and the England management.

The London Irish full-back was left playing "like a robot", capable only of following pre-programmed instructions as England's one-dimensional style stifled his natural game.

With his confidence shot, Armitage lost his place in the team and was at such a low ebb that he did not expect to be part of England's five-match tour of Australia and New Zealand.

But the call came and Armitage today has the chance to launch his comeback against the Australian Barbarians in Perth.

"The Six Nations was very disappointing for me. I went away from how I like to play rugby. I became a bit of a robot," said Armitage, who recovered from shoulder surgery just before the championship.

"I just wasn't ready. The coaching staff backed me but I probably just wasn't ready to get back into Test rugby.

"I would be kicking the ball senselessly at times and in my head, I was getting back from the coaches: 'Don't get turned over in our half, don't do this'.

"In my head I just thought: 'I can't get turned over so I am going to kick this ball 60 metres down the field' whereas before I would have taken that risk.

"When I was flying and full of confidence, I would have had a go from anywhere.

"But I would see a couple of guys getting turned over in our half and the coaches were saying: 'We don't want to see that'.

"I went back to Irish and I still wasn't playing to the best of my ability, so I was quite lucky to get on this trip.

"This is another opportunity for me to prove to the coaches and everyone that I can get back to where I was a year ago, in that England number 15 shirt."

Armitage is relishing the chance to play with Charlie Hodgson and Olly Barkley in the belief their attacking qualities will help him rediscover his old self.

"In the Six Nations I probably touched the ball three times when we were running in the back line. Charlie and Olly are brilliant and they have great vision," said Armitage.

"We are going to have a go. We are not going to get into this Test team by kicking the ball away, watching Australia play and defending.

"I want to have a go and do what I do best - counter-attack and take people on one-on-one. I want to do the best I can in this game and hopefully get in that Test team."

Armitage is joined by recent Test regulars Ugo Monye, Mathew Tait and Lee Mears in a team to face Australia's second string to be captained by Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw.