Foden aware of Armitage challenge
August 10, 2011
London Irish fullback Delon Armitage is heaping the pressure on England's previous first choice 15 Ben Foden © Getty Images
England fullback Ben Foden admits he is starting to feel the pressure ahead of the forthcoming World Cup.
The Northampton star has been England's first choice fullback since the final match of the 2010 Six Nations. But Foden is beginning to feel the heat after his revitalised rival Delon Armitage produced an eye-catching performance in England's first World Cup warm-up match against Wales.
Foden will get his chance to respond when England travel to Cardiff for the return fixture on Saturday but he knows the pressure is on. England manager Martin Johnson will finalise his World Cup squad on August 22 and after that there is one final preparation game, away to Ireland, before the tournament begins.
"There's more pressure than ever on me this weekend," admitted Foden. "Delon's a good friend of mine so it's good to see him back playing so well - but it definitely puts the pressure back on myself and the ball is back in my court.
"When I get a chance to put the shirt back on I need to perform well. Delon's getting back to the form he showed in 2009 and I've got to make sure I match that and keep my nose ahead."
Foden has experienced contrasting emotions at the Millennium Stadium this year. In February, England beat Wales en route to their Six Nations title but in May Foden was part of the Northampton side that lost the Heineken Cup final to Leinster.
Foden is relishing the challenge that awaits him this weekend, not only in the battle against Wales but in his own personal duel with Armitage. "It'll be a hostile environment going down to Cardiff. It will be very rowdy but we're looking forward it. I really enjoy that pressure and that centre stage," said Foden.
"I'm pretty sure it will be a feisty atmosphere again. I like the pressure. Nobody can afford to sit back on their laurels and assume they are going to be starting. The Welsh will be disappointed they didn't get the win at Twickenham and they need a win leading into their World Cup preparations.
"As for England, we want to show we can win on the road as we've got to go to New Zealand and play some of the fiercest teams in the world."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton
Cards, kicks, slips and scores: It's The Week in Pictures, the finest snaps from the last seven days of rugby
Huw Richards Rewinds to 1975 when three Welsh legends were handed their debuts and assesses their legacy
Seven places in the Champions Cup quarter-finals are up for grabs; we break down the permutations for each group in the final round of matches