BEN Foden’s try-scoring performance for England may not have prevented France from winning the Grand Slam, but it has almost certainly booked him a place on this summer’s tour to Australia.
Coach Martin Johnson handed Foden, who began his rugby career at Hare Lane with Chester RUFC, his first Six Nations start in Paris on Saturday. Although the French edged to a 12-10 victory, Foden’s confident display and breathtaking early try left many England fans wondering why he hadn’t played a more prominent role earlier in the championship.
Head cheerleader for Cholmondeley- raised Foden was none other than the man he replaced – Delon Armitage.
Armitage held down the full-back position for four of the five games but last season’s player of the tournament was a shadow of his former self, having recently returned from an operation.
“Fair play to Foden, he took his chance,” said Armitage. “I’m really happy for him. It’s about time they gave him a shot.
“I need to get back to where Ben is now. That confidence, that wanting to carry the ball, to play rugby, to have a go.”
Foden, 24, sparkled in Paris, finishing off a thrilling running move when Northampton Saints clubmate Chris Ashton picked him out on the overlap just five minutes in at the Stade de France to dive over and ground.
England ended up beaten by a hair’s breadth but Foden should have done enough to convince Johnson to select him for summer’s tour of Australia.
One man who knows a thing or two about England’s number 15 shirt – World Cup winner Josh Lewsey – thinks so.
“Ben is a real competitor, the real deal,” said Lewsey. “The first time I watched him at an England training session he struck me as being physically very capable and mentally strong.
“I’m so pleased for him, because he’s had to wait a long time for his chance.”