Aviva Premiership
Armitage and Kennedy linked with Irish exit
ESPNscrum Staff
January 3, 2012
London Irish fullback Delon Armitage slots a kick, London Irish v Newcastle Falcons, Anglo-Welsh Cup, Madejski Stadium, Reading, England, October 23, 2011
Delon Armitage has endured a trouble 12 months for club and country © Getty Images

London Irish fullback Delon Armitage is reportedly set to turn his back on English rugby by signing for French side 14 side Toulon.

The 28-year-old England international, who has endured a troubled 12 months for club and country including four suspensions, is one of five players in line to switch to the big spending Top 14 club next season according to the Var Matin newspaper. However, Toulon have denied the reports while the Exiles have refused to comment on the speculation.The pair are among 17 London Irish players whose contract expires in the summer and have been free to talk to rival clubs since New Year's Day.

Armitage, whose brother Steffon joined Toulon last summer on a two-year deal, will reportedly be joined by Irish team-mate and a third England international in lock Nick Kennedy. Armitage's place in the England squad is under threat with Northampton's Ben Foden and Harlequins' Mike Brown expected to claim the two fullback berths in the Six Nations squad set to be announced on January 11.

However, Kennedy has been linked with a return to the international set-up for the first time in two years with Rugby World Cup locks Tom Palmer and Simon Shaw already playing in France and set to fall foul of the Rugby Football Union's strict policy of only selecting overseas-based players in 'exceptional circumstances'.

The recruitment of former France fly-half Frederic Michalak from The Sharks in South Africa was revealed by Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal last month with the signing of French international hooker William Servat from Toulouse also expected after the 33-year-old failed to secure a new long-term deal with his current club. The quintet of players reportedly poised for a move to the south of France is completed by Biarritz and France prop Fabien Barcella.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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