Sale 20-34 London Irish, Aviva Premiership, April 16
Booth insists Armitage deal is not done
April 16, 2011
London Irish flanker Steffon Armitage talks to ESPN%]
London Irish head coach Toby Booth has revealed that flanker Steffon Armitage's proposed move to Top 14 side Toulon is yet to be confirmed.
Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal announced yesterday that he had signed the 25-year-old on a two-year deal with the player set to link up with his new club next season but Booth insists talks are ongoing about his future.
The England international was in superb form as tries by winger Topsy Ojo, hooker David Paice, fly-half Dan Bowden and Armitage himself eased the Reading-based outfit to a 34-20 victory over Sale Sharks at the Reebok Stadium today. But the main concern post-match was with the back-rower's current situation.
"Steffon Armitage is in the middle of a three-year contract. We knew last year that he had two-years left on his contract," said Booth. "There's no contract signed anywhere else, no compromise agreement, no anything, but ultimately we want world class players. Steffon's got world class attributes and we want him at the club. If we don't, we want players with those world class attributes."
Rumours have also circulated about Irish possibly being in negotiations with Melbourne Rebels flanker Michael Lipman as a replacement for Armitage. Booth confirmed they have had discussions with Lipman, adding, "We spoke to him of course, but that's not because of the Steffon situation as want to improve our squad year in, year out.
"Everybody's talking about George Stowers leaving, so therefore we've got opportunities in our back-row. There's a lot of two and two makes four, five or six and I understand why those people make those predictions.
"He [Lipman] has decisions to make around his future. He's a very loyal and committed player. The fact that he's been a good captain for Bath when he was there and the fact that he's playing exceptionally well for the Rebels makes him a very exciting prospect."
Sale boss Steve Diamond reacts to his side's defeat%]
Despite being dominated for the first period, Sale fought back in the second half thanks to tries by locks Sean Cox and Wame Lewaravu in front of a record home crowd of 16,428. And Sharks' executive director of sport Steve Diamond hopes the occasion can bring the fans back to Edgeley Park.
"We're in Greater Manchester, it's only 20 minutes from the centre of where Edgeley is so it was a great occasion and a well planned event," he said. However, Diamond does not believed his side were overawed by the game.
"You can't come out to a better environment, 16 or 17,000 people here. They've trained well week, it's not nerves, it's the level of player that we have with us in some positions. "That's why the recruitment drive is to get a pack of forwards."
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