Easter urges Armitage call-up
Nick Easter has urged England to create a "destructive force" by pairing Steffon Armitage with captain Chris Robshaw for their assault on this year's World Cup.
Former England number eight Easter believes head coach Stuart Lancaster must "go down that route" and end Armitage's Test exile to boost the host nation's hopes of glory.
England have continued to overlook Armitage since his 2011 move to Toulon, sticking to their rule of not selecting overseas-based stars.
The RFU is understood to be ready to invoke the exceptional circumstances clause in that ruling to hand 29-year-old Armitage a World Cup call at number eight.
The five-cap back-rower could then operate alongside flanker Robshaw, leaving the England captain's Harlequins team-mate Easter predicting a mouth-watering combination.
"That would be a real destructive force to have not one but two of that type of player in the back-row," Easter told Press Association Sport.
"I think you've got to go down that route, you've got a great opportunity in England.
"And yeah it might be frowned upon, but South Africa had to succumb to it and bring players back.
"And it is a one off for the World Cup, and it's a great opportunity.
"It certainly suggests that if you're going to bring someone like that in then they are more than likely going to be in the squad."
Robshaw is expected back shortly after a month on the sidelines with shoulder trouble, after managing to avoid surgery that would have threatened his Six Nations participation.
Toulon's Armitage will not be considered for Six Nations selection, but England coach Lancaster is still considering drafting him into the summer's World Cup training squad.
Armitage's long-mooted return had initially hinted at a straight fight for the openside flanker berth with captain Robshaw, but his club switch to number eight raises the prospect of the two working in tandem.
"You've got to have your best players available, and if other guys are upset by it then their mental mindset is not right," said Easter.
"They should be thinking 'bring on the challenge and the competition' and just hope they've got enough to prove themselves worthy of a place in the squad.
"Steffon has obviously played the majority of his rugby at flanker, but has performed very well at number eight at Toulon this season.
"He's one of the best breakdown exponents in the world and I think England would certainly benefit from having him and Chris (Robshaw) in there together."