- Saints full back looks ahead to England's summer tour to South Africa
- We want to put out a big statement to the rugby world – Foden
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Full back Ben Foden believes England’s summer tour to South Africa is exactly the challenge the side need if they are to continue the remarkable progress made during the 2012 RBS 6 Nations.
Although they only came together as a squad in January, Interim Head Coach Stuart Lancaster’s young England side finished in second place and made history in the process as they won three away games for the first time in the tournament.
For Foden, who became a father just days before the Ireland victory, the focus now turns to the three-Test tour in South Africa in June and he believes the squad can send out a statement of intent for the future of English rugby with a good trip.
"It’s probably the next step that we need to take as a team," the Northampton Saints man said. "We’ve played against the northern hemisphere teams and we didn’t quite cut it against Wales but everything seems to be going in the right direction and the next step along that rung is to test ourselves against some of the best teams in the world.
"We did that in the northern hemisphere in the Six Nations and we fared pretty well so the next step is to go over to South Africa and test ourselves against them and obviously it will be a big marker if we can go down there and take a few scalps.
"I spoke with Stuart and the other leaders about it during our week in Loughborough and we were saying that we don’t just want to go over to South Africa as an end of season jolly. We are going to take it seriously and look to put out a big statement to the rugby world that we are a new, up-coming side who are ready to play with the big boys."
At 26 and with 27 caps, Foden is one of the senior members of a squad which featured eight new starters during the course of the RBS 6 Nations. And Foden believes the culture created under Lancaster will stand England in good stead for the future as they build towards a home World Cup in 2015.
According to former Sale Shark, England’s second place finish was well beyond the expectations of many at the beginning of the Six Nations and he think Lancaster has done a “brilliant job”.
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"He came into an unknown area, cleared out some of the old boys and brought in some fresh faces in terms of management and players and given some of these young guys a shot at it which was a massive risk and it has paid off for him and the players have delivered for him," Foden explained.
"He has created a culture at England now where players want to be involved in it and want to be playing for the England team. There’s a lot of pride and passion back in the shirt and a lot of support from the media and the fans and that is what you are looking for going forward.
"We will look to build on that and everything seems to be going in the right direction and hopefully we will see some positive things from this England team."