Bet on Armitage shining as Cueto is ruled out of World Cup opener
Mark Cueto’s dodgy back is a blessing in disguise for England as Martin Johnson is now unable to select the winger who has scored just three tries in 35 tests.
Cueto has never been a prolific scorer at international level and his absence from England’s back three makes them a more menacing prospect – as long as Johnson doesn’t call up Matt Banahan.
A back three of Chris Ashton, Delon Armitage and Ben Foden would cause huge problems for any international defence and while Johnson is a fan of bulk over brains, Banahan’s performances in the World Cup warm-ups have surely seen him slide down the pecking order.
Armitage and Foden are in a battle for the 15 shirt but Cueto’s absence will allow Johnson to move Armitage out to the wing and keep Foden at full-back.
Ashton is a certainty and is probably the first name on Johnson’s team sheet, and with nine tries in 13 Tests it’s hard to argue with his inclusion.
Armitage has primarily played most of his club and international rugby at full-back, but he has made three substitute appearances on the wing for England in the past two years and scored from that position in England’s final warm-up game with Ireland.
Ashton’s rise to prominence in the 2011 Six Nations means he will be a targeted man in New Zealand and so he’s unlikely to be given the space in which to prosper.
While there is no doubt Ashton has the ability to make the space, England haven’t had a serious try threat on the other wing in some time and Armitage may be able to fly under the radar somewhat.
England have scored 34 tries in 15 matches with Argentina and with a potentially prolific back three, Argentina will have to be very aware of England’s genuine try threat on Saturday.
Johnson names his England team on Thursday and if Armitage is in, expect some entertaining rugby from England.