England v Argentina, Rugby World Cup, September 10
Armitage benefits from hard work
September 8, 2011
Saturday will be the first time Armitage has started on the wing for England © Getty Images
Delon Armitage's start on the left wing for England on Saturday signifies the culmination of a remarkable turnaround for the London Irish speedster.
The fullback was dropped by England at the end of the 2010 Six Nations and he missed this year's title-winning campaign through suspension. Armitage feared his chequered disciplinary record, which saw him banned last season for abusing an anti-doping official and for punching, would cost him a place at the World Cup.
But England kept the faith and a combination of Armitage's recent form and an injury to Mark Cueto has earned him a starting berth on the left wing for England's showdown with the Pumas. "I didn't even think I'd be over here so it's a massive turnaround. If you do the hard work, the right things, sometimes you get your rewards," said Armitage. "I'm really happy the way things have gone. When I was told by Martin that I would be starting he mentioned it was because of the way I'd been training and playing over the summer.
"It's massive satisfaction. To have the opportunity to start now, I'm speechless, it's like a dream come true."
Armitage was banned from the Six Nations for clashing with an anti-doping official after a London Irish game and he was in hot water soon after his return for punching Northampton fly-half Stephen Myler. "What's happened has happened. (The England management) didn't really need to say anything to me. I just had to train hard," said Armitage. "My record for England is really good, I've never had a problem or issues with discipline. There was nothing for me to really fix.
"I just wanted to keep doing what I'm doing for England and get some form back."
Armitage made his Test debut against the Pacific Islands in 2008 and enjoyed a flying start to his England career before injury and a chronic loss of form halted his progress. "I play a lot better with a smile on my face, when I am relaxed and enjoying it and recently I have got to back that," said Armitage. "The style England are playing, the way we want to throw the ball around and the way we want to have a go that suits the way we want to play."
Cueto is still struggling with the lower back injury which forced him off just 21 minutes into England's final warm-up international against Ireland. Johnson insisted Cueto could have played in an emergency but Armitage's form, which brought him a try off the bench in Dublin, meant England had a simple decision to make.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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