England can beat Australia at Twickenham this weekend in order to give them a major boost not only in what has been a disappointing autumn international campaign but to inject some confidence ahead of the Six Nations and next year’s World Cup, according to full-back Ben Foden.
Stuart Lancaster’s side suffered narrow defeats to New Zealand and South Africa before finally registering a victory last weekend, with the 28-9 win over Samoa breaking a five-game losing streak. While those five games were against the two best teams in the world according to the World Rugby rankings, England were hoping to lay down a marker ahead of the home World Cup, but once again they fell just short against Southern Hemisphere opposition.
For Foden, it has been a frustrating November on more than one count, given that he is currently out of the England side after suffering ankle and knee injuries which he has since recovered from to feature for reigning Aviva Premiership champions Northampton Saints. But while he believes that England can take positives out of the two defeats, he feels that the frustration is shining through due to people growing tired of the excuse that England were ‘close but not close enough’.
England starting line-up vs Australia
England starting line-up vs Australia
1/22 15. Mike Brown
Age: 29 Caps: 32 Tries: 6 Points: 30 Club: Harlequins
2/22 14. Anthony Watson
Age: 20 Caps: 3 Tries: 0 Points: 0 Club: Bath
3/22 13. Brad Barritt
Age: 28 Caps: 21 Tries: 1 Points: 5 Club: Saracens
4/22 12. Billy Twelvetrees
Age: 26 Caps: 15 Tries: 3 Points: 15 Club: Gloucester
5/22 11. Jonny May
Age: 24 Caps: 10 Tries: 3 Points: 15 Club: Gloucester
6/22 10. George Ford
Age: 21 Caps: 5 Tries: 0 Conversions: 3 Penalties: 4 Points: 18 Club: Bath
7/22 9. Ben Youngs
Age: 25 Caps: 41 Tries: 6 Points: 30 Club: Leicester Tigers
8/22 1. Joe Marler
Age: 24 Caps: 25 Tries: 0 Points: 0 Club: Harlequins
9/22 2. Dylan Hartley
Age: 28 Caps: 60 Tries: 1 Points: 5 Club: Northampton Saints
10/22 3. David Wilson
Age: 29 Caps: 40 Tries: 0 Points: 0 Club: Bath
11/22 4. Dave Attwood
Age: 27 Caps: 15 Tries: 0 Points: 0 Club: Bath
12/22 5. Courtney Lawes
Age: 25 Caps: 35 Tries: 0 Points: 0 Club: Northampton Saints
13/22 6. Tom Wood
Age: 28 Caps: 33 Tries: 0 Points: 0 Club: Northampton Saints
14/22 7. Chris Robshaw
Age: 28 Caps: 31 Tries: 2 Points: 10 Club: Harlequins
15/22 8. Ben Morgan
Age: 25 Caps: 24 Tries: 2 Points: 10 Club: Gloucester
16/22 16. Rob Webber
Age: 28 Caps: 9 Tries: 1 Points: 5 Club: Bath
17/22 17. Matt Mullan
Age: 27 Caps: 6 Tries: 0 Points: 0 Club: Wasps
18/22 18. Kieran Brookes
Age: 24 Caps: 3 Tries: 0 Points: 0 Club: Newcastle
19/22 19. George Kruis
Age: 24 Caps: 1 Tries: 0 Points: 0 Club: Saracens
20/22 20. James Haskell
Age: 29 Caps: 52 Tries: 4 Points: 20 Club: Wasps
21/22 22. Owen Farrell
Age: 23 Caps: 28 Tries: 2 Con: 35 Pens: 69 Drop-goals: 1 Points: 290 Club: Saracens
22/22 23. Marland Yarde
Age: 22 Caps: 6 Tries: 4 Points: 20 Club: Harlequins
Speaking on behalf of Worx DIY Christmas Campaign, Foden said: “The reason why people are getting frustrated is because a lot of people are saying it doesn’t matter how you win games, we just want to win games and we don’t want to just be close.
“People are getting tired of that excuse and we are England at the end of the day. We have a big stream of players, we have a great RFU, the best facilities and so we should be competing with and beating the best teams in the world.
“I think we’ve struggled especially against the Southern Hemisphere in the last couple of years and it’s something Northampton used to struggle with as well when we would play top four teams. Once you get over the fence and you get the first couple of wins the you start getting on the right end of those results, the close matches, and suddenly you’re falling the right side of the sword in the three-point game where you get the try at the end of the game to win it or the penalty in the last minute to kick to win.”
A victory against the Wallabies would go a long way to appeasing the critics that fear what one victory from four could spell for the team. As Foden says, two wins is the “minimum request” for this series, and he has understood from the start that beating old foes Australia would be the most important in order to send out a message that Michael Cheika’s side can’t come to HQ next year and emerge victorious.
Foden continued: “I said early on when I did a talk to a crowd at the first international because I wasn’t involved so I did some work over at Twickenham and said I think the biggest international is Australia because they’re the ones who we’ll play at Twickenham in 13-14 months’ time.
“It’s the crunch match that we’ve got, Wales are in the group as well and they’re doing well and it always a tough fixture. If Australia win against us at Twickenham, they’ll be relishing the opportunity to come back and do it again in the World Cup.
“So it’s an important game, I think Australia are going through that transition period as well as they’ve had to make a lot of changes and there’s been a lot of doubts about where they were going, but I think they’re now starting to put some good form together and we saw in the Rugby Championship over in the Southern Hemisphere that they were capable of beating the big guys – they ran New Zealand close and beat South Africa – and they’re very much on the upwards curve.
One problem that has been identified in the England team of late is their tendency to fall away from games having taken the lead – especially after the half-time break. It was a common sight in the summer tour of New Zealand that the All Blacks would come from behind and put their foot down in the second half, and despite a late England comeback the lead would be just big enough to see England off.
It happened again at Twickenham against the All Blacks and the Springboks, but Foden believes injuries have played their part in disrupting their preparation, and resulted in Lancaster being forced to pick sides who haven’t yet formed an understanding of how each other play.
“That transition from playing Premiership rugby to international rugby is a big step up and we’ve got new guys, new faces and new,” Foden added. “The half-backs have interchanged and when we get that settled team that knows each other and knows how we want to play the game and on the same wave length, then I think we’ll see those 80 minute performances.”
Given that Foden has been out of the side, the 29-year-old has been afforded the chance to try something a bit different. In-between seeing off Saracens at Allianz Park last weekend in a repeat of last season’s epic Premiership final and facing London Welsh on Sunday, Foden has tried his hand at some DIY in order to build an early Christmas present for his daughter, Aofie.
“Basically Worx got in touch and said they were putting together a DIY campaign, and being a young new father I thought it was something I’d like to get involved in,” he explains. “I met them for the day and put together a nice little dolls house, which actually I took back to Aoife and she absolutely loved it.
Watch the video of Foden building the doll's house below...
“We haven’t really done anything further with it but we’re going to paint it together and Una [Foden’s wife] got all excited and brought all the furniture for it inside so it’s become like a family thing.
“It just shows that making the present has so much more sentimental value to Aoife at such a young age, and with so much excitement that I built something like that. It’s a real positive way to look at it and rather than spend so much money at Christmas and get yourself into debt all year round, it’s such a simple way to avoid that by getting creative and making something in your garage or your garden shed that can put a smile on your child’s face at Christmas.”Reuse content