Toulon comes first for Steffon Armitage - but he wouldn't say no to England call
Steffon Armitage admits he "wouldn't say no" if he got a call from new England coach Eddie Jones to reignite his international career - but insists his immediate aim is to continue performing well for Toulon.
Armitage was named European Player of the Year in 2014 but, despite his impressive displays for French giants Toulon, he could not force his way into Stuart Lancaster's World Cup squad this summer due to England's policy of not selecting overseas-based stars.
The 30-year-old flanker gave another reminder of his immense talent on Sunday with a starring role in Toulon's 24-9 European Champions Cup win over Leinster, scoring two tries as well as helping his side force nine turn-over penalties.
And while Jones, who replaced Lancaster after England's miserable World Cup campaign, has said he is happy to adhere to England's rule of only picking players who play in the Aviva Premiership, Armitage has not given up hope of adding to his five caps in the future.
"I wouldn't say no, but my first thing is to keep playing well for Toulon and keep my place here," said Armitage after being asked about playing for his country again.
"That's the only way I am going to get anywhere at international level - keep my head down and keep pushing. Who knows what is going to happen in the future?"
Reigning champions Toulon extended their unbeaten run at home in the top tier of European rugby to 16 games as they ground out a victory which made it three successive defeats for Leinster. The two teams will meet again at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
"We had something to prove after our first game and we wanted to show that we still have got the ambition to go further and to win it four times. This is just a stepping stone and hopefully we can come out stronger next week again," added Armitage.
"There is a lot we messed up in the game and a lot we can improve on. It was a tense week coming into this game especially after getting zero points at Wasps. I have to thank all the forwards for my tries - it is eight guys together and we all worked really hard for those tries."
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen was unhappy to see his side have three players sent to the sin-bin by World Cup final referee Nigel Owens.
They also conceded 15 penalties, nine of them at the break down as they were effectively knocked out of the running for a quarter-final place in Pool Five.
"We hope to have close to 45,000 fans watching us at the Aviva Stadium and we want to put in a performance that we can be proud of. A lot of breakdown calls went against us and we will have to work on that interpretation," said Cullen.