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Eddie Jones questions Mourad Boudjellal's story-telling ability

Steffon Armitage's prospects of making an England comeback have receded after Eddie Jones denied speaking with the Toulon flanker and mocked the French club's comic book owner Mourad Boudjellal.

Boudjellal claims Armitage told him Jones had been in contact to clear the path to an international return after six years in exile due to Twickenham's edict that overseas players can only be selected in exceptional circumstances.

"Steffon asked to leave Toulon and go and play in an English club and for the England team. It's his ambition so why not," Boudjellal told Eurosport TV.

Armitage, 2014 European player of the season, has one year left on his contract and his availability has been made known to Aviva Premiership clubs with Wasps and Bath his likely destinations if a move materialises.

Boudjellal insists the 30-year-old back row "has a price and it's expensive", but his route back for England appears even harder after head coach Jones stated the conversation never took place.

"You've got to remember the bloke who makes the comments writes comic books. I will leave it at that," Jones said.

"I don't know whether he writes them or sells them but he has made plenty of money out of them. Batman and Robin won't be in the team."

When asked if there had been any contact with Armitage, Jones said: "Not that I know of.

"People have false Facebook posts and false Twitter accounts, so I suppose you can have a false phone call.

"I don't control him. It's got nothing to do with me. He is not eligible to play for England."

Premiership clubs have been made aware of Armitage's availability with Wasps the favourites to sign the former London Irish forward, who won five caps in 2009-10 but really established his reputation after moving to Toulon.

"Players of Steffon's quality - world-class players - you are always going to welcome them in the team," Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said.

"The reality of it is, if we could attract a world-class back row player, we would definitely look at it. Nobody would turn their back on a world-class player."

England have gathered in Brighton to prepare for their Test against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday week, a match that that will serve as the warm-up to their series against Australia in June.

Jones refuses to subscribe to the traditional explanation for a poor end-of-season tour being that it bookends an arduous campaign.

"I remember one of the first staff meetings we had after the Six Nations when the staff started saying 'they've had a long, hard season'," Jones said.

"As soon as you talk like that, you're saying you don't want to win. Every team in the world has got this same issue.

"The southern hemisphere come here in November - do the All Blacks ever complain about a long, hard season? They enjoy it and they play super rugby.

"There's no reason why we can't go to Australia and play super rugby."

Jones was underwhelming when asked about Danny Cipriani's chances of forcing his way back into the England team.

"Danny has been okay. He's been good enough to get into the squad here. He has done a good job at Sale," Jones said.

"He has got to understand that at 28 he has got to evolve into a different sort of player and that's the process he is going through now.

"Whether he can make himself into a worthwhile international player is his challenge."


From Belfast Telegraph