- Ben Foden preparing for England match-up with Leicester at Franklin's Gardens
- Playoff positons, Midlands pride and England places at stake
Photo: Getty Images
More than a third of England’s Elite Players Squad will take the field when Northampton Saints host Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership tomorrow and for full back Ben Foden that just adds to his desire to win.
Fourth meets third at Franklin’s Gardens as both sides look to withstand Exeter Chiefs’ challenge for a playoff spot and take crucial momentum into the end-of-season knockout rugby.
Northampton have won four of their last five in the Premiership and Foden feels they are peaking at the right time, critical when facing a side packed with England internationals Manu Tuilagi, Toby Flood, Ben Youngs, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling and Tom Croft.
Thomas Waldrom takes Leicester’s England RBS 6 Nations squad contingent to seven and while Foden acknowledges their quality, he was keen to emphasise his own side’s burgeoning potential.
The 26-year-old said: “When we meet there are always some scores to settle, Leicester are a quality side and are always in it at the end of the season, having been there for the last five or six seasons.
“We’ve got a lot of players returning from international duty but then also a few guys who are getting over injuries and little niggles. It’s exciting for us at Northampton, we’ve got a very good squad and the players involved with England just shows we are creating good players and players ready to take that level.
“We look forward to the big crunch games and obviously Leicester is one of those.”
Photo: Getty Images
EPS members Dylan Hartley, Calum Clark and Tom Wood are unavailable but Foden starts at No.15, alongside England colleagues Chris Ashton, Lee Dickson and Phil Dowson, making it 11 of Stuart Lancaster’s RBS 6 Nations squad on the field.
Leicester have defeated Northampton twice already this season – 30-25 in the Aviva Premiership in December and 26-14 in the LV= Cup final at Sixways in March – but looking back to the most recent encounter Foden feels it was an opportunity missed.
He added: “They’re a difficult side to beat – but we’ll take a lot of hope from that game [in the LV Cup final], as I think we created problems for them.
“We threw away a lot of opportunities and created a lot of two-on-ones in that game. We sat in the review after the game and I could tell that the boys were pretty disappointed with the way things had gone. Obviously that intercept try put the distance they needed to be able to control the game and sap the pace out of it.”
With Midlands bragging rights and a chance at Premiership glory on offer, and less than a month until Lancaster names his 40-man touring party for South Africa in June, there’s much at stake tomorrow afternoon.