Steffon Armitage remains determined to play for England and dismisses any chance of playing for France

Armitage was included in a preliminary France squad but the former Saracens and London Irish flanker is determined to play for his country again

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The Independent Online

Steffon Armitage still has a burning ambition to play for England again and believes he is "100 per cent a better player" than when he last represented the Red Rose.

Armitage has won five caps for England but the most recent of them came back in 2010 before he moved from London Irish to French giants Toulon.

England have a policy of only picking overseas-based players in exceptional circumstances, meaning Armitage - the reigning European player of the year - has had to watch the Stuart Lancaster era from the outside.

However, the 29-year-old flanker, who has a three-year contract with Toulon, has not given up hope of pulling on an England shirt once more - and dismissed any suggestions he might switch his allegiance to France.

 

Armitage was included in a provisional France squad this summer, subject to his selection by their Sevens team for Olympic qualification.

He told The Times: "Maybe I have spent time in France, but that is nothing, my heart was always with England.

"I definitely still want to play for England. As a rugby player, you want to play at the top of the game, and the top of the game is your country."

Steffon-Armitage-2.jpg
Armitage last represented England against the New Zealand Maori in June 2010

Armitage, who saw a possible move back to England with Bath fall through last month, may have damaged his international opportunities by moving to France, but he says he does not rue his decision to cross the Channel.

He added: "I had a lot to prove. All aspects of my game have improved. Irish got me to the point of being an international, but coming to Toulon got me to an extra level and each aspect of my game has got better.

"That is why I can't regret moving to France. It's the best thing I ever did to become the player I am today.

"I was young. I tried too much. I don't think I really knew the game back then and I didn't have the time or run of games to get familiar with what international rugby is about.

"I am 100 per cent a better player (now)."

PA

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