Foden fuelled by past pain
April 28, 2011
Ben Foden gives the thumbs up during training at stadium:mk © Getty Images
Northampton Saints fullback Ben Foden believes the bitter memories of their end-of-season meltdown last year will drive them on against Perpignan in the Heineken Cup semi-final this weekend.
The Saints were well position last season to win silverware in Europe, and domestically. But their season imploded after a Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Munster at Thomond Park, which was then followed by a defeat to Saracens in the Aviva Premiership play-offs.
After a roaring start to the season, Saints endured a similar slip in form during the Six Nations that threatened to undermine their Premiership ambitions. But following the return of internationals such as Foden, Chris Ashton and Dylan Hartley, Saints have regained their top form, including a highly impressive victory over Ulster in the quarter-finals at stadium:mk.
And the England fullback says the Saints will take the field on Sunday desperate to blast away the bitter memories of last season's knock-out anguish.
"Everyone was talking about us last year and saying we had the chance to go on and win things. But then it was all taken away from us very quickly," admitted Foden. "We were beaten by Munster in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals in Limerick and lost at home to Saracens in the Premiership semi-finals. It was a bitter pill to swallow and we are determined not to fall like that again
"All of a sudden we were away on our holidays while the trophies were being handed out. We are all looking forward to the summer holidays, but as professional players we play the game for days like these and we want to go as far as we possibly can.
"The Heineken Cup is a tournament I have always wanted to be a part of and one day win and the semi-final against Perpignan is going to be the biggest club game in which I have ever been involved. It is going to be hugely physical, but winning against Ulster at Milton Keynes has put us in the right frame of mind for the weekend."
Perpignan have struggled in the French Top 14 this season, but in Europe they have been more impressive. They overcame Toulon in the quarter-finals in Barcelona and Foden is not underestimating the threat of the travelling French team.
"Their league season hasn't gone so well and so they will only have the Heineken Cup to focus on. Sunday is going to make or break their season," added Foden. "We have put ourselves in the best possible position by winning all our games to this stage and we have learned the harsh lessons of 12 months ago. This is going to be our biggest game of the year and we have done our homework on them.
"They have some big forwards and thrive on momentum and getting the ball into the hands of players like Henry Tuilagi. Having played against them last year we know what they are capable of."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September