Saints full-back Foden is setting his sights on England

RED ROSE DAYS - Ben Foden in action for England against France in 2012
RED ROSE DAYS - Ben Foden in action for England against France in 2012
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At times, Ben Foden’s midweek media session felt strikingly similar to a job interview.

There were the warm-up questions, a bit of nervous shuffling - mainly from those doing the interviewing, rather than from the interviewee - and then there was the hard sell.

Saints V Bath. 'Ben Foden. NNL-140928-011313009

Saints V Bath. 'Ben Foden. NNL-140928-011313009

Full-back Foden was in bullish mood as he took to the hotseat ahead of Saints’ clash with his former club, Sale Sharks, on Saturday.

And while that Aviva Premiership encounter was at the forefront of his mind, it was clearly not the only thing occupying it.

“I feel healthy and hungry - that’s the best word to describe it,” says Foden forcefully, when the subject of his recent form rears its head a couple of minutes into the interview.

“I’ve got a point to prove because I feel like I’ve been the forgotten man over the last couple of seasons so it’s nice for me to be talked about in the right way again.

Saints V Gloucester.'James Wilson and Ben Foden. NNL-140923-003704009

Saints V Gloucester.'James Wilson and Ben Foden. NNL-140923-003704009

“Hopefully I can continue to perform and play well for Northampton Saints.

“I want to get people buzzing and talking about me again to give the England selectors a tough job when it comes to the autumn internationals.”

Foden has appeared on various TV programmes over the past few months, including Most Haunted and Celebrity Pressure Pad, alongside the likes of James Wilson and Jamie Elliott, but, from speaking to him a couple of times of late, it is evident his off-pitch persona is clearly not his priority.

Instead, the 29-year-old’s focus is sharpened on what happens across the white line, and, inevitably, in the white shirt this November.

London Irish v Northampton Saints at the Madjeski Stadiun, Reading.'Ben Foden. NNL-140510-094640005

London Irish v Northampton Saints at the Madjeski Stadiun, Reading.'Ben Foden. NNL-140510-094640005

Currently, Harlequins star Mike Brown remains in pole position to pull on the 15 jersey when New Zealand come calling in the first game of the autumn international series at Twickenham next month.

But after battling back from a string of irksome injuries, Foden is fighting fit, and ready to fight for the right to represent his country in his favoured position once again.

“You want to be involved in an England team that’s got a lot of competition,” says the ever-affable Saint, plucking the positive from the current situation.

“It’s always a difficult position to be in when you’re on the fringes of the England side because you need something to happen for you to get your chance: either the guy in front of you to perform badly or an injury, and you don’t wish that on anyone.

“For me, I’ve got two guys who are playing brilliantly in (Saracens’ Alex) Goode and Brown. For me to get back in there, I’ve got to perform out of my skin.

“There’s no point in waiting for an opportunity, you need to keep knocking on the door, put pressure on those guys and hopefully when a chance does come you’re ready.”

And it is at that point that Foden dusts off the metaphorical Curriculum Vitae, knowing the England EPS squad announcement is just around the corner - October 22 to be precise.

“I’ve been to the international stage before, I’ve been to a World Cup and I’m hungry to fight for that opportunity again,” he adds. “If I do get the chance, hopefully I’ll take it.

“You look at all the teams that I’ve played for... When I first came here to Northampton, Jim (Mallinder) sat me down and asked whether I wanted to play nine. I eventually said I wanted to play 15 and I had to oust Bruce Reihana, who was probably one of the best full-backs in the world.

“It was no easy feat there and with the England squad I had to oust Delon Armitage, who was consistently one of England’s best players.

“You’ve got to wait for your opportunity and perform when it comes.

“The way for me to do that is to perform well here at Northampton and keep putting in performances like I did against Bath and show that I’m going to be around for a while.

“Hopefully I’ll put in performances to justify reselection.”

Foden is, of course, right to reference that blockbusting performance against Bath just a couple of weeks ago.

It was on that day that it looked like the man who has lit up Franklin’s Gardens so many times in the past, might just be back at his very best.

And whether you’re Reihana, Armitage or Brown - that is unquestionably a frightening prospect.