Rugby World Cup 2011: Delon Armitage to start on left wing

The 27-year-old will start on the wing in England's Pool B opener against Argentina on Saturday

martin johnson
Johnson named his squad for England's opener on Thursday PA Photos

martin johnson

Delon Armitage will start on the left wing and make his Rugby World Cup debut when England meet Argentina at the Otago Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday.

The 27-year-old wing, a try-scoring replacement against Ireland in Dublin a fortnight ago, is one of 10 players making their tournament bows in a team captained by Mike Tindall.

Armitage, who takes over from Mark Cueto and Nick Easter’s inclusion at No8 ““ James Haskell moves to open-side in place of Hendre Fourie ““ are the two personnel changes from the starting XV at the Aviva Stadium.

“I didn’t even think I’d be over here so it’s a massive turnaround,” said a delighted Armitage after learning the news. “If you do the hard work, the right things, sometimes you get your rewards.

“I’m really happy the way things have gone. When I was told by Martin that I would be starting he mentioned it was because of the way I’d been training and playing over the summer.

“It’s massive satisfaction. To have the opportunity to start now, I’m speechless, it’s like a dream come true.”

England manager Martin Johnson said: “Mark’s had a little bit [of back trouble] before but he could have played.

“There’s a grey area between fit and injured in where most players sit all of the time. He trained fully all week but he’s not quite where he needs to be – but the good things for us is Delon is playing very well.

“It’s quite a simple decision. Delon has been around for a few years now, we know when he is in form he is a Test match player. We’ve no qualms about picking him in any of the back three positions.”

The England manager, whose side’s first Pool B game kicks-off at 0930BST on Saturday, added: “We’ve got 30 guys in the squad we can trust,”

“We’ve got Matt Stevens also at tight-head but Dan Cole has done very well and seemed like the right way to go. Jonny’s been in great form, as has Toby, and it’s a great place to be to have two 10s step up and start for us.

“Jonny’s in good form and we know what he brings to the table. It’s a good decision to have to make. Jonny just got his nose in front for this game, although that may change for this week or the week after, whatever we think is best.

“That’s where the squad is, we don’t get a drop off in a lot of positions. We’ve got Steve Thompson, Dylan Hartley and Lee Mears at hooker, and Lee Mears is a British Lion. There’s an argument for all 30 of our players.”

England team to face Argentina

Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Mike Tindall (captain), Delon Armitage, Jonny Wilkinson, Richard Wigglesworth, Andrew Sheridan, Steve Thompson, Dan Cole, Louis Deacon, Courtney Lawes, Tom Croft, James Haskell, Nick Easter.

Replacements: Dylan Hartley, Matt Stevens, Tom Palmer, Tom Wood, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Matt Banahan.

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