Delon Armitage last night hit back at comments made about him by Andy Robinson, saying he was angered to have been labelled "arrogant" by the Scotland head coach.
Robinson cited the axed England full-back for a dangerous tackle on Chris Paterson in the World Cup, and revealed this week that he would not have done so if the tackle had been made by flanker Lewis Moody.
Armitage, who was banned for one week as a result, said he felt "victimised" and branded by reputation, and he expressed annoyance that he had been singled out by Robinson on grounds of his personality.
"Of course it did (anger me)," Armitage said. "If ever I were a manager, I wouldn't be throwing out comments like that. I wouldn't be impressed with myself. It's not what you expect. I don't see why he wanted to get players cited. If that's what makes him happy, that's fine. I was very disappointed by what he had to say."
Armitage's displeasure was deepened by the fact that he met Robinson after the game, when he claims no reference was made to the way in which the Scotland coach thought he had behaved.
"It was a bad tackle and I got the one-week ban," Armitage said. "But I'm more disappointed because we spoke after the game. I've a lot of respect for Andy Robinson as a manager and as a player before that. He was England coach when I first started playing. Whether it came from that and he didn't like me at the start of it, I don't know. He had no reason to bring it up.
"If he thought the England team were arrogant, then I'm guilty of arrogance for wanting to play my best for England, for wanting to win a World Cup for England and for wanting to bring back cups for England. If that's arrogant, then I'm guilty."
Given that Armitage has been dropped from the senior England squad and will play for the Saxons against the Irish Wolfhounds at Exeter on Friday, Armitage was puzzled by the timing of Robinson's comments.
"I don't see what it has to do with the Six Nations as I'm not even in the Elite Player Squad," said Armitage, who stressed that he wanted to fight for his place in the senior squad even though he has been linked strongly with a move to Toulon to join the huge contingent of England players there.
Four bans in 12 months for ill discipline have not helped his cause and Armitage accepts that he has had a poor year in that regard. He admits to overstepping the mark, but feels that there is also a sense of him being censured by past reputation.
"Once you're branded, that's it every single time," he said. "You feel like almost being victimised about everything that happens. I've seen worse things that haven't been pulled up. Once you've made a name for yourself, though, it's hard to get it off your shoulders." (© Daily Telegraph, London)