Delon Armitage vowed never to let his teammates down again after offering a brutally honest assessment of his performance in England's 30-17 victory over Wales. The London Irish full-back feared he would be dropped for Ben Foden, Northampton's thrilling counter-attacking No 15, for Sunday's Valentine's Day clash with Italy in Rome after his least impressive game in an England jersey.
Armitage even refused to take any credit for the vital interception which led to James Haskell scoring the match-winning try, claiming it was "a bit of luck". But after conducting some harsh self-analysis, Armitage is now determined to redeem himself against the Italians having retained his place ahead of Foden. "I was very disappointed about the Welsh game. We still won but on a personal level it was the worst game I have played for England," said Armitage. "I felt I let the boys down. I wasn't in a very good mood on Saturday night and I sulked a little bit.
"I spent a bit of time at home reviewing the game. That self-analysis is an important part of the process so I knew exactly what I needed to work on and didn't have to come in and get told by the coaches. So is the honesty. I put my hand up in the meeting and said 'I let you down, I will be better next week for you guys'. "But I was pretty nervous about selection. Ben Foden is a great player. He has been playing really well, he is putting the pressure on and I'm feeling it.
"I am glad I have another opportunity. I feel I have a chance to repay the guys, repay the coaches. The Italy game can't come soon enough because the seven-day wait has been killing me." Armitage was England's player of the year last season and he started 11 consecutive Test matches, scoring five tries, before shoulder surgery ruled him out of the autumn international campaign. But it was a sign of Armitage's standing in the England set-up that Martin Johnson, the team manager, picked him to play in the Wales game after just five appearances back for London Irish.
"That is why I am so disappointed. The England coaches put their trust in me and I disappointed them. I don't ever want that to happen again," Armitage explained. Meanwhile, Johnson expects Steve Borthwick, who has not trained all week after contracting a bug, and Simon Shaw, Lewis Moody and David Wilson will be all be fit to their place in the squad. Paul Sackey, the out-of-favour England wing, is to leave London Wasps at the end of the season and join a French club. "He has received offers that we simply cannot compete with," said Tony Hanks, Wasps' director of rugby.