Ben Foden will always be indebted to France coach Philippe Saint-Andre for spotting his potential as an international full-back.
But when England take on France tomorrow, Foden’s only desire will be to make Saint-Andre wish he had never opened his mouth.
Foden was a promising scrum-half for Sale when he filled in at full-back in a Possibles v Probables pre-season match, caught Saint-Andre’s eye and played a handful of Premiership games in the 15 jersey.
Unconvinced by Saint-Andre’s advice, Foden left Sale for Northampton the following summer, determined to pursue a career as a scrum-half. But it turned out Saint-Andre was right. “I saw Philippe at a golf event after I had broken into the England team and the first thing he said to me was ‘I told you so’,” Foden said.
“Philippe talked to me when I went to Northampton and said I had massive potential to be a full-back. I’ll always be indebted to him for that. I look forward to seeing him and we’ll have a chin-wag after the game. I am sure he will test me out nice and early!”
Foden has been disappointed with his performances for England so far. “I need a big performance because I don’t think I have been that great in this competition so far and I have lot more to give.”
Foden’s most recent memory of playing Les Bleus is last autumn’s painful 19-12 Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat in Auckland.
“That is a memory that will last a long time for me,” Foden said.
FRANCE: C Poitrenaud (Toulouse); V Clerc (Toulouse), A Rougerie (Clermont Auvergne), W Fofana (Clermont Auvergne), J Malzieu (Clermont Auvergne); L Beauxis (Toulouse), J Dupuy (Stade Francais); J-B Poux (Toulouse), D Szarzewski (Stade Francais), N Mas (Perpignan), P Pape (Stade Francais), Y Maestri (Toulouse), T Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt), J Bonnaire (Clermont Auvergne), I Harinordoquy (Biarritz).
Replacements: W Servat (Toulouse), V Debaty (Clermont Auvergne), L Nallet (Racing Metro), L Picamoles (Toulouse), M Parra (Clermont Auvergne), F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), M Mermoz (Perpignan).
ENGLAND: B Foden (Northampton); C Ashton (Northampton), M Tuilagi (Leicester), B Barritt (Saracens), D Strettle (Saracens); O Farrell (Saracens), L Dickson (Northampton); A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Hartley (Northampton), D Cole (Leicester), M Botha (Saracens), G Parling (Leicester), T Croft (Leicester), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Morgan (Scarlets).
Replacements: R Webber (Wasps), M Stevens (Saracens), T Palmer (Stade Francais), P Dowson (Northampton), B Youngs (Leicester), C Hodgson (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins).
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