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Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Armitage tips brother for England

By Simon Austin

Delon and Steffon Armitage
Delon (left) and Steffon Armitage have inspired Irish to the top of the table

Delon Armitage believes his brother Steffon can star for England in the Six Nations - despite not being named in their 32-man elite squad on Wednesday.

Delon was outstanding for England in the autumn internationals after being initially overlooked by Martin Johnson.

He told BBC Sport: "I was an outsider at first and it made me more hungry to prove myself when the chance came.

"Some players in this squad are injured and Steffon might get a chance. If he does, I'm sure he will take it."

Steffon, 23, was named the Guinness Premiership player of the month for November after a series of outstanding displays at open-side flanker for top-of-the-table London Irish.

At 5ft 9in and 15 stone, Steffon is on the small side for an international forward, but his performances this season have prompted Exiles player-coach Mike Catt to compare him to England legend Neil Back.

Delon Armitage
Steffon has done everything he possibly could to get in the squad

Delon Armitage

He was widely tipped for promotion from the England Saxons to the elite squad, but Johnson has stuck with Tom Rees and Lewis Moody as his preferred number sevens.

However, Rees will miss at least the first three matches of the Six Nations because of a knee ligament injury and England admit they are likely to have to bring in a replacement for the Wasps forward.

Delon has told his younger brother to take heart from his example in the autumn.

The full-back was not even among the 64 players Johnson named in his senior and Saxons squads last summer, but went on to play all four autumn Tests following injuries to Mathew Tait and Nick Abendanon, and was named England's player of the series by fans.

"I got my chance because of injuries and have told Steffon to keep doing what he's doing and battling away in the Premiership," said the 25-year-old, who was speaking at an EDF Energy national schools rugby programme event.


"I'm sure he's not far off and will hopefully get a shot. Obviously he's disappointed not to be in the squad and I'm disappointed for him, because he's been playing really well for the last few months.

"He's done nothing wrong and has done everything he possibly could to get in the squad.

"But if he keeps playing the way he has been, it will make it hard not to pick him."

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see also
Foden & Morgan get England calls
14 Jan 09 |  English
Irish boss delighted by call-ups
14 Jan 09 |  London Irish
Armitage is flourishing - Booth
21 Nov 08 |  London Irish

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