Fit Ben Foden ‘won’t walk back into England team’


Northampton’s England full-back Ben Foden will continue his injury comeback by starting Saturday’s LV Cup semi-final against Saracens.

Foden was a second-half substitute in the Premiership leaders’ 39-13 league win over Gloucester at the weekend, his first appearance in 14 weeks since damaging knee ligaments in a victory over Newcastle in late November.

Foden looked sharp but Jim Mallinder, Saints’ director of rugby, said: “Ben has had a long lay-off; he won’t expect to walk into the England team, particularly when Mike Brown is playing so well.”

Among Northampton’s five tries was one for Alex Waller, who began on the bench while his younger brother Ethan, 21, made a first Premiership start.Alex, just turned 24, started for England Saxons against Scotland A and Ireland Wolfhounds in January, and while his form is good, the national competition is tough with Joe Marler, Mako Vunipola and his injured clubmate Alex Corbisiero ahead of him.

“I’ve had some good time away with the Saxons and obviously you want to play for your country,” said the elder Waller. “I am concentrating hard on doing the best I can for Northampton.

“Ethan held his own in a Premiership game for 50 minutes-odd and then I came on and just did what I could. It’s unfortunate that Alex [Corbisiero] has got his injury but it’s given me the chance to progress and start every week, which I haven’t done before. And Ethan now has his shot – he comes off the bench every week and gets good experience. His position now is quite similar to me, two years ago, when I supported Soane Tonga’uiha.”