- England have arrived in snowy Leeds for five-day training camp
- Ben Foden looking to build on “inspirational” New Zealand victory
England have arrived in snow-clad Leeds for the five-day, pre-RBS 6 Nations training camp, with the main objective to reconnect as one group and establish the game plan for five Test matches in seven weeks.
Eight Premiership clubs have provided 34 players and returning full back Ben Foden believes a quick appraisal of what England are about is crucial for the team’s continued success.
The Northampton Saints man missed the four QBE Internationals last autumn with an ankle injury and having watched the “inspirational” victory over New Zealand from afar, says the team must continue that forward progress.
“We need to continue the momentum [from the autumn],” said the 27-year-old after arriving at the team hotel. “There are a few new faces, Billy [Twelvetrees], Freddie [Burns] have come in and I’m back myself so obviously there are things that have changed, tactics will have changed, but it’s all about buying back into what England are about.
“We’ll have a series of meetings, set out a plan for what we’re trying to do over this Six Nations. Stuart will lead and it will be reinforced by Faz, Wig and Catty.
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“Watching the guys beating New Zealand was inspirational as an outsider looking in. It’s exciting to be back here and obviously there’s probably a bit of pressure on us to perform in this Six Nations but this team is ready for it and we want to put in some massive performances over the next couple of weeks.”
Although Foden admits the end of training is likely to decent into a snowball fight he is confident Head Coach Stuart Lancaster’s knowledge of the area will ensure the players get what they need from training regardless of the weather.
This time last year Lancaster broke with the tradition of warm weather training in Portugal for the more salubrious surroundings of North Leeds and, recalling that week, Foden says the new players and new surroundings set the tone for what England wanted to achieve.
The 30-cap man said: “I remember turning up and seeing all the fresh faces, there had been a lot of changes in management and playing personnel so it was different and new.
“I knew there was a lot of speculation around the side and media hype that we weren’t going to quite cut it and were in a transitional phase. But after the first session I was excited because we had a breed of young talent coming through who wanted to make an impression and stake their claim.
“As the week went on I saw progress and a change in attitude where everyone bought into what Stuart was trying to do.”
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Foden crossed the whitewash in Northampton Saints’ 27-20 defeat to Glasgow Warriors last Saturday in the Heineken Cup, a result which eliminated the 2010 finalists at the pool stage.
But with Harlequins, Saracens and Leicester Tigers progressing to the knockout stages – the first time since 2009 three English teams have made the final eight – Foden says England can approach the RBS 6 Nations with genuine confidence in their form.
He added: “Obviously it’s disappointing that Northampton are not one of the three teams to go through, we didn’t end things the way we would’ve liked, but we have to put that to the back of our minds and there are other trophies concentrate on.
“But it’s a testament the rugby in the Premiership at the moment and the players from those sides –the majority of them are here – need to get their England thinking caps on and really look to turn that club form into international form.”