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No qualms picking Armitage says Johnson

08 September 2011

  • Martin Johnson says Armitage’s form made it an easy decision on Cueto
  • No qualms picking Delon in any of the back three positions
England Team Manager Martin Johnson (L) and Delon Armitage chat during a training session

Photo: Getty Images

Martin Johnson says the form of Delon Armitage is the main reason for handing the London Irish man his Rugby World Cup debut against Argentina, despite the niggling back injury for Mark Cueto.

England’s Team Manager has selected 10 world cup debutants in his starting line-up to face the Pumas on Saturday evening in Dunedin (9.30am kick-off BST) and says Cueto could have been pressed into action if absolutely necessary.

Outlining his full confidence in 22-cap Armitage, who featured in all the warm-up games and scored a crucial try off the wing in the Dublin victory, Johnson said: "Mark's had a little bit of back trouble before but he could have played against Argentina.

"There's a grey area between fit and injured in where most players sit all of the time.

"He trained fully all week but he's not quite where he needs to be – but the good thing for us is Delon is playing very well.

"It's quite a simple decision. Delon been around for a few years now, we know when he is in form he is a Test match player. We've no qualms about picking him in any of the back three positions."

England's forwards practice a scrum during training at Carisbrook Stadium, Dunedin

Photo: Getty Images

Much has been made in the build-up about Argentina’s physical approach to the game, which is spearheaded by one of the most experienced packs in international rugby.

But Johnson says that is too simplistic a view of the challenge they will face under the closed roof of the Otago Stadium.

"They do what they do very well but they've got more dimensions to them than is sometimes made out," he added.

"They are a dangerous running side, they come at you through the forwards but put you under pressure with their kicks as well. It's a full-on Test against a team that finished third in the world last time.

"You have to get it right in the moment, right from the opening kick-off."

England Team to face Argentina
Player Club
15 Ben Foden Northampton Saints
14 Chris Ashton Northampton Saints
13 Manu Tuilagi Leicester Tigers
12 Mike Tindall (C) Gloucester Rugby
11 Delon Armitage London Irish
10 Jonny Wilkinson RC Toulon
9 Richard Wigglesworth Saracens
1 Andrew Sheridan Sale Sharks
2 Steve Thompson London Wasps
3 Dan Cole Leicester Tigers
4 Louis Deacon Leicester Tigers
5 Courtney Lawes Northampton Saints
6 Tom Croft Leicester Tigers
7 James Haskell Ricoh Black Rams
8 Nick Easter Harlequins
Player Club
16 Dylan Hartley Northampton Saints
17 Matt Stevens Saracens
18 Tom Palmer Stade Francais
19 Tom Wood Northampton Saints
20 Ben Youngs Leicester Tigers
21 Toby Flood Leicester Tigers
22 Matt Banahan Bath Rugby