Saints feeling refreshed after recent 'chaos'

Ben Foden believes Saints will be re-energised by taking a Christmas break from the 'chaos' at the club.

Ben Foden is feeling refreshed ahead of the trip to Twickenham (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Ben Foden is feeling refreshed ahead of the trip to Twickenham (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Foden and Co were given Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day off following last Saturday's 35-14 defeat to Exeter Chiefs at Franklin's Gardens.

It has given them a chance to recharge the batteries surrounded by friends and family before returning to training on Tuesday.

And Foden feels he and his team-mates, who have lost 12 of their past 13 matches and recently saw director of rugby Jim Mallinder depart, should feel the benefits when they take on Harlequins in Big Game 10 at Twickenham on Saturday.

"It's good to have had three days away from all the chaos that's been going on here over the past few weeks," the 32-year-old said.

"It gives us a chance to zone out, but also reflect, and hopefully we'll come back re-energised and ready to go.

"Having an event like a game at Twickenham - the first game on terrestrial TV, 70,000 people there - should give the boys the extra we need to turn our season around."

Saints have numerous players who have experienced the buzz of Twickenham before.

But Foden feels it could be those who are not as used to the big stage who shine the brightest this weekend.

"I think you need a good blend - your experienced guys who have been there and also the guys who are shaking and backed into a corner because they're the guys who do something magical, the unexpected that can win a game," Foden said.

"I was always quite chilled out as a young guy playing in games like that. I embraced it and took it on my shoulders.

"I'm looking forward to what other guys are going to bring. Harry Mallinder is playing really well at the moment, Tom Stephenson could get a chance to show the world what he's about.

"We need guys to step up because that's been something that's been missing during the past eight or nine weeks.

"We need big-game players and we've got guys who have been there and done it before, with Tom Wood, Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes.

"But we need the whole team because we know it's going to be a tough game.

"Things don't come easy but we saw some improvements against Exeter and we felt we turned the corner a bit, especially in defence, which is something we've really been poor at.

"There are still improvements to be made and if we can do that and bring the same intensity we had against Exeter and take it to Twickenham, it will be a great starting point."

Although Saints did eventually concede four tries in their defeat to Exeter last Saturday, there were fewer gaping holes in their defence.

England coach Paul Gustard played a part in that slight improvement, having been invited to take a session at the Gardens in the build-up to the Chiefs clash.

And Foden said: "It's always nice to have a new voice, something fresh.

"What Paul Gustard is about is aggression and what you build defences around is aggression and willingness to get off the line and go and hurt people.

"You need to put a shoulder in and get in a good position to make tackles and we had been far too relaxed in defence.

"We were happy to let teams keep the ball, but in defence it's an opportunity to go and make ground and go from there.

"Having someone like Gussie come in, who is world class and has brought a lot to England, and having a fresh voice noticing the faults that were wrong with our system is something we can build on and it's good foundations to have."