Potential Armitage return boost to England’s Rugby World Cup bid

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Stuart Lancaster appears to be putting the finishing touches to his squad for next year’s Rugby World Cup with the news Toulon forward Steffon Armitage could make a shock return to England in the next few days with either Bath or Saracens.

Armitage has huge aspirations to play at next year’s World Cup but plying his trade in France has so far worked against him wearing the Red Rose on his chest.

The former London Irish flanker signed a three-year contract extension in November to keep him at the Stade Mayol but he is fully aware that he will remain out of Lancaster’s plans while he plays abroad.

The 29-year-old had even looked into the possibility of representing France at next year’s showpiece event – he would have to compete in four World Series Sevens tournaments before he could pull on a Les Blues jersey – but with that unrealistic Armitage is once again dreaming of representing England.

And should the man who has played for his country five times already swap the Top 14 for the Aviva Premiership then he would be eligible straight away for further England honours.

And Toulon boss Bernard Laporte has not ruled out the possibility of his star man swapping France for England in the coming days.

He told BBC Sport: “The season’s begun. We have to be quick if he wants to change.

“He has a contract [with Toulon], but if the England coach says if he plays for Bath or for Saracens then he will play in the World Cup, I think he has to play for these clubs.”

Bath and Saracens are the clubs being linked with a move for Armitage with the West Country club seemingly in pole position.

But with Lancaster naming his England squad for the Autumn internationals on October 22 there is a race against time to get this deal over the line and Armitage back into the England fold.

If a deal can be pulled off it would certainly add to England’s chances of winning next year’s World Cup on home soil, something they are available at 3/1 with Ladbrokes to achieve.

Armitage is the current European Player of the Year and has helped Toulon win back-to-back Heineken Cups and his strength, mobility and skills at the breakdown offer Lancaster a potentially exciting back row option alongside the likes of Chris Robshaw, Tom Croft, Billy Vunipola and Ben Morgan.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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