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Booth: Armitage deal not done

London Irish head coach Toby Booth said flanker Steffon Armitage's move to Toulon has yet to be confirmed.

It was reported that Armitage would be joining the French side on a two-year deal, but Booth says talks are ongoing with the flanker about his future. Armitage was in superb form as tries by Topsy Ojo, David Paice, Dan Bowden and Armitage himself eased the Reading-based outfit to a 34-20 victory over Sale Sharks at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.

Booth said: "Steffon Armitage is in the middle of a three-year contract. We knew last year that he had two-years left on his contract. There's no contract signed anywhere else, no compromise agreement, no anything, but ultimately we want world class players."

He added: "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."

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.

He said: "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."


From Belfast Telegraph