ROB Foden will be the proudest man in New Zealand this weekend when he watches his son complete a journey which began on the playing fields of Hare Lane and led him all the way to the biggest stage in world rugby.
Ben Foden is expected to start at fullback for England in their Rugby World Cup opener against Argentina on Saturday, a match which will beamed to a global TV audience of millions.
It will be a landmark moment for the 26-year-old from Cholmondeley, who rose through the ranks at Chester RUFC before moving into professional rugby.
Dad Rob will be at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin to see his son in action against the Pumas.
“It’s the ultimate achievement and it will be an awesome experience,” said Rob, a former head coach at Chester RUFC. “We are looking forward to it immensely.
“The messages of support we have received from family and friends has been fantastic, even from people who don’t normally watch rugby. It’s amazing how many of those now watch it regularly.”
Rob, who lives in Cholmondeley, is optimistic England can go all the way if the team play at the top of their game throughout the six-week tournament.
He said: “All the sides they should play along the way they have beaten before. Me and Ben have worked out that after the group stages, England would probably play France in the quarter-finals and Australia in the semis.
“That sort of pathway is the most predictable but this is a tournament and anything could happen.
“I think they have got every opportunity with Martin Johnson as coach.”
Chester-born Ben’s professional rugby career began in 2004 when he left Hare Lane and signed for Sale Sharks. He joined Northampton Saints in 2008 and made his senior England debut a year later, coming on as a substitute in a Six Nations win over Italy.
The former Bishop Heber High School student had established himself as England’s first-choice fullback by the time this year’s Six Nations came round and he was a key figure as Martin Johnson’s team won the tournament.
Rob is aware Ben’s career could have taken a totally different direction had he successfully made an audition for TV music contest Pop Idol.
But he said: “Rob missed a Sale Sharks training session to go to that audition, but there was some problem with the trains that day and he never made it to the show. I wouldn’t have minded if he made it big on that, but I think I’d prefer him in what he’s doing now!”
England v Argentina kicks-off at 9.30am and will be broadcast live on ITV1. England’s remaining Pool B fixtures are against Georgia (September 18), Romania (September 24) and Scotland (October 1).