Steffon Armitage: Wasps 'interested' in bringing back England man from Toulon

Steffon Armitage in action for Toulon.
Steffon Armitage agreed a new three-year deal with Toulon in November 2011.

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young has confirmed his interest in bringing back exiled England international forward Steffon Armitage from Toulon.

Reports from France have suggested that 30-year-old Armitage is keen to go back to England after five years in France.

"We would certainly be interested in bringing somebody like Steffon back," Young told BBC Sport.

"But we have had no contact with Toulon at all and, until that becomes a reality, we've nothing to comment on."

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal was quoted as saying Armitage wanted to return to enhance his chances of an England recall - foreign-based players are not considered for selection for the national side.

England head coach Eddie Jones, speaking at a training camp in Brighton on Tuesday, said he had not had a conversation with Armitage about any potential return, but he added: "If he's eligible to play for England and in form I will definitely look at him."

Young admits that the end-of-season loss of George Smith and Charles Piutau makes speculation about players of the calibre of flanker Armitage external-linkand South African back Willie Le Rouxexternal-link inevitable.

"We are an easy target when we are losing the likes of George Smith and Charles Piutau," added Young, talking at the press conference ahead of this Saturday's Premiership semi-final at Exeter.

"Of course we would be looking at these players, or players of that position. But we are nowhere near down the road with any of them really.

"We know that Steffon's agent is enquiring in the Premiership. Yes, we would be interested but, at what levels, we don't know, and he's a Toulon player at this time.

"If Steffon is looking to come back to England, I am sure we are one of 12 Premiership teams who would be interested in him."

Armitage, who is on England coach Eddie Jones' radar, won the first of his five England caps under Martin Johnson in 2009, but has not been capped since the 2010 Six Nations.

"I haven't had a conversation with him," Jones told BBC Sport. "But, if he's eligible to play for England and in form I will definitely look at him."

Young on Kurtley Beale injury latest

Young has responded to the news that overseas marquee signing Kurtley Beale's knee injury is now not as bad as first feared.

Beale suffered the blow playing for NSW Waratahs, just a day after the signing was announced.

"Obviously, it's not great," Young told BBC Sport. "But I'm really glad that it's not as bad as it could have been.

Kurtley Beale
Australia back Kurtley Beale could be out until the autumn after a torn tendon in his kneecap

"If it's not September, we certainly won't rush. He'll be back when he's back. It's part and parcel of professional sport. He's up there with world class. He certainly fits that bill."

Beale's signing falls outside the salary cap, which stipulates that all clubs are allowed one overseas marquee signing and one England-qualified marquee signing whose salaries are not included in the cap.

Joe Simpson in line to go to Rio Olympics

Young expects Wasps' once-capped England scrum-half Joe Simpson to be part of Great Britain's rugby sevens side at the Olympic Games in August in Rio de Janeiro.

Simpson has joined the GB Sevens training squad and Young says he would be surprised if he does not end up going to Rio, considering all the time, effort and money it has taken to agree the Wasps number nine's release.

"I would be disappointed," Young told BBC Sport. "It would be like dangling a carrot and taking it away.

Joe Simpson
Australia-born Joe Simpson won his one England cap at the 2011 World Cup

"It has taken a bit of talking so I would be surprised if they go through all of this and don't take him.

"We have an agreement with the RFU. First and foremost it was about Joe. He really wanted the experience, and why wouldn't he?

"We had to support him in it. If any of our players had that opportunity we would have to support it."

Dai Young was talking to BBC Sport rugby reporter Chris Jones

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