Steffon Armitage’s prospects of making an England rugby comeback have receded after coach Eddie Jones denied speaking with the Toulon flanker and mocked the French club’s comic book owner Mourad Boudjellal.
The controversial Boudjellal claims Armitage told him Jones had been in contact to clear the path to an international return after six years in exile due to Twickenham’s edict that overseas players can only be selected in exceptional circumstances.
“Steffon asked to leave Toulon and go and play in an English club and for the England team. It’s his ambition, so why not?” Boudjellal told Eurosport TV.
Armitage, 2014 European player of the season, has one year left on his contract.
Boudjellal insists the 30-year-old back-rower “has a price and it’s expensive”, but his route back for England appears even harder after head coach Jones stated the conversation never took place.
“You’ve got to remember the bloke who makes the comments writes comic books. I will leave it at that,” Jones said.
“I don’t know whether he writes them or sells them but he has made plenty of money out of them. Batman and Robin won’t be in the team.”
When asked if there had been any contact with Armitage, Jones said: “Not that I know of.
“People have false Facebook posts and false Twitter accounts, so I suppose you can have a false phone call.
“I don’t control him. It’s got nothing to do with me. He is not eligible to play for England.”
Wasps are favourites to sign the former London Irish forward, who won five caps in 2009-10.
England have gathered in Brighton to prepare for their Test against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday week, a match that that will serve as the warm-up to their series against Australia in June.
Jones refuses to subscribe to the traditional explanation for a poor end-of-season tour being that it bookends an arduous campaign.
“I remember one of the first staff meetings we had after the Six Nations when the staff started saying ‘they’ve had a long, hard season’,” Jones said.
“The southern hemisphere come here in November – do the All Blacks ever complain about a long, hard season? They enjoy it and they play super rugby.
“There’s no reason why we can’t go to Australia and play super rugby.”