Foden backing Mallinder for Lions coaching role

LIONS JOB? - Ben Foden believes Jim Mallinder should be part of the Lions coaching team in Australia next summer
LIONS JOB? - Ben Foden believes Jim Mallinder should be part of the Lions coaching team in Australia next summer

BEN FODEN believes Saints boss Jim Mallinder would be a perfect fit for a role in the British & Irish Lions coaching staff for next summer’s tour of Australia.

Warren Gatland was named as the side’s head coach on Tuesday and promptly announced his decision to get a management team in place before the autumn internationals start on November 10.

Mallinder could be a contender for the role of attack coach after developing a stylish Saints side during his time at Franklin’s Gardens.

And England and Saints star Foden, who is a leading contender for the Lions full-back slot, has backed his club’s director of rugby to play a part Down Under.

“Jim’s shown his calibre throughout his time with Northampton and with Sale and what he’s done with both those clubs,” said Foden. “And having worked in the RFU as well he’s capable of doing it at international level. He did it with the Saxons and the Under-21s and has successful campaigns.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Jim and if he does get the job that’d be great for us, well for me as a player because he knows me quite well as a player.”

Foden will be up against the likes of Ireland’s Rob Kearney and Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny for the Lions No.15 shirt.

But the 27-year-old knows he needs to have a big season if he is to make it on to the plane next year.

“Warren Gatland has made it clear it’s a clean slate,” said Foden. “He’ll be picking guys who are on form this year and that’s what I’ve got to focus on.

“For me it’s just to stay fit and hopefully keep playing well. First and foremost I’ve got to be selected for Northampton and England and go on from there.”