x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

No old pals act for Armitage

Delon Armitage faces a tough debut for England when he faces London Irish club-mates Seilala Mapusua and Sailosi Tagicakibau.

If Delon Armitage is looking for an easy one-off-the-mark from friends when he makes his England debut against the Pacific Islanders tomorrow, he is set to be gravely disappointed. The full-back, 24, will be facing against two of his London Irish teammates at Twickenham, the Samoan centre Seilala Mapusua and winger Sailosi Tagicakibau. And he knows what is coming. "They've already promised that they'll be putting up high balls and coming for me," he said.

However, another of the Exiles back-line, the former England centre Mike Catt, reckons high bombs will be playing to the strengths of the new boy. "He is probably the best player in the UK under the high ball at the moment," said Catt, who is in the UAE at present as a guest of the Arabian Gulf union. Born in Trinidad, Armitage possesses an attacking verve nurtured during five years spent growing up in France

"He is one of the few English youngsters who is just a natural talent," added Catt, who also foresees a call-up for Armitage's 22-year-old brother Steffon in the very near future. "He is not a manufactured talent at all, he has just got that ability to do things at the right times. He is a very good kicker - he kicks the ball a country mile - and he is very aggressive in defence." pradley@thenational.ae