English Rugby
Armitage out to impress
ESPNscrum Staff
August 31, 2011

Fullback Delon Armitage is relishing the chance to showcase his skills against the world's best after impressing in England's warm-up Tests.

Armitage on Tuesday arrived in New Zealand with the rest of Martin Johnson's squad - barring the ill Simon Shaw - who are on a mission to regain the Webb Ellis Cup. But Armitage has also set himself personal goals, with one of his aims being to pit his wits against the world's best back-three talent, such as New Zealand great Mils Muliaina and Australia prodigies Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor.

"You want to be the best in the world in your position," said the 27-year-old. "You look at those guys and think they're amazing.

"You watch Kurtley and the way he plays week in and week out and guys like O'Connor and Mils Muliaina. If you get an opportunity to play against them, that's what you want.

"To play against the best players in the world and to have that opportunity would be massive."

Armitage thought he had flushed away his World Cup place after getting himself needlessly banned twice this year. The London Irish star missed the entire Six Nations after being banned for pushing an anti-doping official before getting himself suspended again for England's May clash with the Barbarians after striking an opponent during an Aviva Premiership game.

Manager Martin Johnson last week put his faith in Armitage by selecting the fullback in his 30-man World Cup squad, having recalled him for the warm-up matches against Wales and Ireland. Armitage capitalised on his reprieve by coming off the bench to score in Dublin four days ago and is now determined to do everything possible to play a part in England's Pool B opener against Argentina a week on Saturday.

"I've got that hunger back," said Armitage, who is competing with Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto for a place in the back three. "I've got an opportunity to go out to the big show so now everything is focused on getting selected for that Argentina game.

"I just want to play, regardless of whether it's on the wing or at full-back. Ben's still playing really well and Ash and Cuets are still going well.

"Every time I get an opportunity, I'm going to try to put pressure on the coaches by playing well. If I have to sit on the bench or in the stands then so be it. We need to get that first game win and then move on."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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