Lancaster reiterates player policy
England coach Stuart Lancaster has reinforced his selection policy over France-based players and made it clear that Steffon Armitage is not in line to be recalled for the QBE autumn internationals.
Armitage produced another eye-catching display in Toulon's Heineken Cup victory over Montpellier at the weekend. Delon Armitage, who followed his brother to Toulon in the summer, scored two tries in that match and appears to have recaptured the form that first saw him selected for England.
Lancaster said: "What makes it difficult when a player plays in France is they are not available for our camps when we need them."
He added: "We have got a camp coming up at the end of this month (at St George's Park) and we have an agreement with the Premiership clubs to have access to the England players.
"It is not under the IRB release window so we can't get the lads who are in the French clubs.
"Toulon were in the French final the day we played South Africa in the first Test (in June) so it creates problems from that point of view.
"You would never say never but it is always going to be harder for players playing in France."
The Rugby Football Union's policy on the selection of Top 14-based players is that it would only happen in exceptional circumstances and Lancaster believes he has more than enough options at his disposal.
Steffon Armitage is seen by some as the only ball-winning openside flanker available to England, but Lancaster and forwards coach Graham Rowntree disagree.
"Over the summer tour Chris Robshaw stole more ball than any other seven playing in the summer, including New Zealand and Australia, but he is also a credible lineout threat and a ball-carrier," Rowntree said.