England vs Fiji: Alex Goode is the form full-back but Mike Brown is a different beast for England, says Ben Foden

Goode has been handed a rare start for England in place of Brown, but former England full-back Foden does not expect it to be a permanent switch

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The Independent Online

Mike Brown has been one of the ever-presents during the Eddie Jones era of English rugby but he will sit out the Twickenham clash with Fiji this weekend, with Alex Goode getting an opportunity to impress at full-back.

There have been calls for Goode to take the No 15 shirt for a while after his outstanding performances for Premiership champions Saracens, but former England full-back Ben Foden isn’t sure this will be a permanent change to Jones’ back-line.

Jones is shuffling his pack against the Pacific Islanders as he aims to build England’s already impressive strength in depth, but has put his faith in Brown from day one, and named him as one of his three vice-captains to Dylan Hartley.

His loyalty to the Harlequins man has left Goode to play second fiddle throughout his tenure, and while Foden concedes Goode outplays Brown in club rugby, he insists the 31-year-old is a “different beast” for the Red Rose.

“It’s a really difficult decision at the moment,” said Foden, who represented England 34 times between 2009 and 2013.

“Obviously Goode’s current form for Saracens has been outstanding and I think he has been knocking on Brown’s door for ages – but you can’t really change a winning side.

“Whenever Brown puts on that white shirt he is a different beast. The performances he puts in for England are a lot bigger than the ones he puts in for Harlequins and while he does that he is going to keep the shirt.

“Goode is breathing down his neck but I don’t know (if he can take the shirt permanently).

“If you look at Brown’s game against South Africa, he was involved in most of the good things that happened for England, and he’s a rock at the back as well. I think what you get from Goode is another ball player and with the Ford-Farrell combination they already have two of those. It makes more sense having someone like Brown, who is an attacking threat out wide.”

Despite Jones’ new-look England for Saturday’s game, Foden cannot see the Australian taking the foot off the gas for the Fijians.

Since taking over, Jones has always spoken about wanting to improve the English game, rather than just the 23 involved on a matchday and with the number of changes he has made – some injury-enforced – Foden believes he is doing just that.

“England are flying high and in a good place,” he added. “We’ve got a good blend of youthful characters as well as guys with experience now, so England rugby is in its best position probably since the World Cup in 2003.

“If you look at the guys who are missing from the squad – George Kruis, Maro Itoje, both wingers Jack Nowell and Anthony Watson, the guys who’ve stepped in have done fantastic jobs.

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“Tom Wood was called in and performed very well. The strength in depth in English rugby at the moment is very impressive.

“Semesa Rokoduguni has been the stand out winger in the Premiership this year and he’ll get a run out.

“Fiji will hope for a dry, fast game and a reckless England but I think Eddie Jones is too smart for that.


Goode has been one of the form players in the Premiership this season (Getty)

“With the rotation, there are too many players with points to prove and who will want to go out there and show what they can do.

“Eddie will be very reluctant to give up his perfect record and England should win quite comfortably, by nearly 20 to 30 points.”

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