Foden backs Lancaster for full-time England appointment after Six Nations success
17:57 GMT, 26 March 2012
Stuart Lancaster has received a timely boost in his bid to become England’s permanent head coach after one of the Red Rose’s key players gave him a ringing endorsement for the role.
After guiding England to four Six Nations wins out of five in an interim role, Lancaster is the favourite for the full-time job in what is a two-way fight with South African Nick Mallett.
And with the new man expected to be announced imminently, full back Ben Foden has put his weight behind the loudening calls for Lancaster’s appointment.
‘You can’t question what the guy has done,’ he said. ‘He’s made all the right decisions, he’s got the right guys involved with him, you can’t really fault anything that Stuart has done.’
The boys and the black stuff: Ben Foden, Jamie Roberts, Jamie Heaslip and John Barclay chew the fat at The Stoop
Lancaster opted to blood several young and uncapped players in this year’s championship, and Foden, who at just 26 is now one of the senior members of England’s squad, praised the former Saxons coach for his bravery in selection and his innovative man management methods when touting the Cumbrian for the full-time role.
‘He’s been brave in his selection choices and he’s been very positive in the way he’s approached it in terms of the media and bringing people in to gee-up the squad,’ he said.
‘Clearing out all the players he did and bringing in the youth and the guys that are playing on form for their clubs – they’ve all risen to the challenge and proven that they’re ready for international rugby and that’s the sign of a good coach at the end of the day.
‘You can’t do more than that. He’s done particularly well with the time he’s had and hopefully if he’s given any longer he’ll be able to take us even further.’
With all the hard work that went into ensuring England made a swift recovery from their disastrous World Cup campaign, it would seem a shame to many to change the coaching personnel and go back to square one.
Backing: Foden has thrown his weight behind Stuart Lancaster
And Foden hopes the side’s performances, in particular in the wins over France and Ireland, will help to keep the squad and backroom staff together.
‘I think that’s why everyone is delighted with the way that things have finished, we showed that the England camp is a good and positive place to be and everyone involved in it is doing very well,’ he said.
‘Hopefully if they’ve all put their hats in the ring and said “I’ve been part of this successful unit where we got things right”, then hopefully they will all be there next year.
‘You know that when you do go back to it it’s going to be a positive place because of how things were left.’
Foden admitted that England’s clinical performance against Ireland in the final game of the Six Nations, a 30-9 win, was in part dedicated to the backroom staff that have helped to rejuvenate English rugby.
‘We knew there was a lot on the line,’ he said. ‘It wasn’t just Stuart either, it was guys like Wig (Graham Rowntree) and (Andy) Farrell and the physios and the strength and conditioning guys.
‘Everyone comes to a point in their careers where they have to renegotiate their contracts and that point’s coming up, and we wanted to go out and play and show everyone out there that was looking in that this was a happy environment with a lot of positives to take out of it and everyone was doing their bit to make sure we were there.
‘We’re all one big family, it wasn’t just a squad of 32, it was a squad of 50, 60 people and that was what was key, everyone feels part of the squad so we win and lose as a squad.’
‘It was a big pat on the back for everyone involved in the England squad on that day.’
Due to the off-field antics of some during the World Cup last year, England’s rugby side became public enemies No 1 in the eyes of rugby fans and media, but the Six Nations success has created a feel-good atmosphere.
In the hotseat: Lancaster oversaw a successful Six Nations campaign
Credit for that, according to Foden, has to go to Lancaster.
‘Stuart’s been pretty instrumental in making us open our eyes to the fact that it’s a great honour to play for England and we’ve got a whole nation behind us if we perform right and use the media to get on our side,’ he said.
‘The whole thing around English rugby, with the RFU being so strong, with the facilities being offered at Pennyhill Park, playing at Twickenham in front of 80-odd thousand people where it’s always virtually sold out. It’s just a massive driving force.
‘If we can get all that behind us and use that to our advantage then we should be pretty unstoppable as a nation.
‘We’ve taken the right steps in the right direction to start the train rolling towards that 2015 home World Cup.’
England head to South Africa in June for a three-Test tour, and while Foden is currently focusing on trying to secure Premiership glory for Northampton – whom he scored two tries for in a 32-15 win over Wasps at the weekend – he admits he is looking forward to the challenge of facing the Springboks.
‘It’s the next test for us as a squad to go up against southern hemisphere teams,’ he said.
‘We want to test ourselves against the best sides in the world. Our next challenge is to go over and take those big scalps and it’s another step in the direction, hopefully we’ll be able to do that with positive and good performance out there in South Africa.’
And would he like to see Stuart Lancaster in charge for the tour
Guinness ambassadors Ben Foden, Jamie Heaslip, Jamie Roberts and John Barclay were taking part in the Guinness Rugby Challenge where Guinness Facebook fans got the chance to play for their country at the Twickenham Stoop.
As in the Six Nations, Wales won the competition, beating an English team including Foden and players from the Birmingham Barbarians club in the final. For more great content go to www.facebook.com/guinnessgb