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Rugby World Cup 2011
Foden unmoved by poor form
ESPNscrum Staff
September 6, 2011

Ben Foden has admitted that he was nowhere near his best in England's World Cup warm-up matches but he remains supremely confident of making a big impact in the tournament, starting with this weekend's clash with Argentina in Dunedin.

Perhaps Manu Tuilagi aside, England's backs failed to display any real incision during last month's clashes with Wales, in London and Cardiff, or indeed their victory over Ireland in Dublin. Foden certainly struggled to make his presence felt and while he knows that space might be at a premium against the Pumas on Saturday, he is determined to make the most of each and every opening that comes his way.

"This is what I have been working for my whole career and I am ready to take it with both hands," the Saints fullback said. "I enjoy the pressure that comes with rugby. This is probably going to be the biggest stage I have ever performed on and one of the biggest games I will ever play.

"I don't think I have been that impressive in the warm-up matches. I need to up my game a little bit. If I get the shirt and the start I will look to take my chances when they come. Hopefully you will see me back and running a few balls and taking players on."

Foden expects his aerial skills to be put to the test against the Pumas, who reached the semi-finals in France four years ago with a highly effective kicking-orientated game, and suspects that a familiar face, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, will be very much out to get him on Sunday.

"I played with Lobbe at Sale and I know what he is capable of. I look forward to him bearing down on me if they do stick a few up," he said.

"In the last couple of games the half-backs have realised if they kick loosely to us as a back line we are likely to punish them and we haven't seen as much ball as in previous games.

"It is one of the tactics Argentina revel in with Lobbe chasing and we have been working on how we can counter that and hopefully we can use it to our advantage. For me it hopefully means I will get a bit of ball and give me the opportunity to run it back."

While many feel that the Pumas are not as strong as they were four years ago, when they ultimately finished third, Foden is not underestimating the threat posed by Santiago Phelan's side.

"Teams like Argentina raise their game considerable amounts when it comes to World Cups," he said. "You saw in 2007, they were a surprise team. They turned France over straight away. We don't want to be that team that comes out and is gets turned over.

"We have big aspirations for this competition. I am sure Argentina will have as well but it will be a good test for us."

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