A VIRTUAL ever-present under previous boss Martin Johnson but now on the periphery under Stuart Lancaster, Northampton Saints full-back Ben Foden admits the next two months are crucial to his chances of featuring for England at the 2015 World Cup.
Northampton, who hammered London Wasps on the final weekend of the regular season, face fierce rivals Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership play-offs and Foden is determined to make his mark.
Foden, who featured on the wing for England during last year’s autumn internationals but missed the Six Nations due to injury, has dropped down the international pecking order in recent months behind Saracen Alex Goode and Harlequin Mike Brown.
He is certainly not finished on the international stage, though, and, after a recent conversation with England coaches Andy Farrell and Mike Catt, he has been told a sparkling May for Northampton will be enough to earn him a place on this summer’s tour to New Zealand.
There is no bigger carrot for a Premiership player than a home World Cup in 2015, but Foden knows the hard work starts now if he is to force his way into Lancaster’s thinking, both in New Zealand this summer and next year.
“There is just a lot of competition in the squad,”said Foden. “For me, it’s just about looking after my body and making sure I’m doing the best I can for Northampton Saints.
“If the international call-ups come, they come. If not, then I will go away, work harder and hopefully put the pressure on them.
“There is a lot of play for and some big games coming up for me to showcase what I can do.
“I’m only 28, I like to think I am quite an experienced international player and I can add something to the tour and, hopefully, I can do that first and foremost in these big knockout games.
“Hopefully, I’ll get the call and make the flight. There is a lot of competition but mostly in my position which is a bit gutting.”
Northampton have wobbled in recent weeks, losing against Saracens and Leicester Tigers, while also drawing against fellow play-off hopefuls Bath.
Last year, they reached the Aviva Premiership final but were controversially beaten by Midlands neighbours Leicester Tigers at Twickenham as club captain Dylan Hartley was dismissed.
Foden says Northampton have unfinished business this time around as they seek another Twickenham appearance.
“The ground has firmed up and we’ve got to make that transition from wet weather rugby to playing the expansive game we started so well with,” said Foden. “It’s what this club is all about really.”
Ben Foden was speaking at the launch of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Policy. Sign up for exclusive access to interviews and competitions at premiershiprugby.com/avivarugbypolicy