Toulon's English flanker Steffon Armitage.
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Former England captain says Steffon Armitage is 'not worth breaking the rules for'

Martin Corry: “I’d say, ‘this is the ruling’ and stick to it.”

STEFFON ARMITAGE IS not good enough for England to bend their rules on overseas selection policy, according to former captain Martin Corry.

With England set to host the Rugby World Cup later this year, many have called for the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Australia and Wales by relaxing their rules on not allowing players who ply their trade outside of England to be considered.

Toulon flanker Armitage and Clermont Auvergne full-back Nick Abendanon — who won the European Player of the Year award earlier this month — are two players that many say should be in Stuart Lancaster’s squad.

But Corry, who represented England on 64 occasions and started in the 2007 World Cup final, believes the RFU should not make any exceptions.

“Looking at it, I don’t see any player playing overseas who is considerably better than what we have got at the moment,” he told Sky Sports. “I look at Armitage and it’s the same with Abendanon; you’ve got to look at these players and the teams they’re playing in.

“Armitage is playing in a great team which makes it quite easy to stand out. You’ve got to really analyse his game and being honest, I think he’s a good player but not someone who’s worth breaking the rules for.

“I think the way in which Stuart Lancaster has handled it so far is absolutely right. Being offered more money to go and play in France is not a new thing. I’ve got no problem with players saying, ‘yes, I’m going to earn more money in France’.

Rugby Union - Guinness Premiership - Semi Final - Leicester Tigers v Bath Rugby - Walkers Stadium Former England captain Martin Corry. Mike Egerton Mike Egerton

“But then don’t come and say that playing for England is the most important thing, because it’s not. The most important thing is you earning more money, which is fine. You know the risks when you sign these contracts.

“You can’t have Stuart Lancaster ring-fencing all these tournaments and organising all these training sessions, which the vast majority of players go to, and then an overseas player comes in cold a week before a tournament starts. It’s farcical.

“I think it may change for the World Cup as an exception, and if it does I think that’s more that Lancaster needs to bolster his squad. I wouldn’t do it. I’d say, ‘this is the ruling’ and stick to it.”

Former England coach Clive Woodward last month blasted England’s selection policy as ”old-fashioned”, while praising Australia for amending their approach to overseas-based players.

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