Foden hails England's newfound belief
March 3, 2011
Ben Foden believes the strength of England's dressing room is producing results on the pitch © Getty Images
Ben Foden has revealed how England have embraced the favourites tag and that the confidence running through the squad is setting them up for success at the World Cup this year.
England need to beat Scotland and Ireland over the last two weekends of the Six Nations to complete their first Grand Slam since 2003 and head to New Zealand as the undisputed leading northern hemisphere nation.
England fullback Foden believes the squad has undergone a transformation in recent times and that the belief the group now possesses is behind their impressive results.
"We are a confident squad who believe we can go on and do good things," Foden said. "We'd love to approach the World Cup being the top side in the northern hemisphere. If we get these results against Scotland and Ireland it will put us in a really good place come the World Cup.
"We are pretty confident, a relaxed camp. Players are on form and the results are following. We feel everything is going in the right direction. We have embraced the favourites tag and hopefully continue to do so. It has been a long process. When I first joined the England squad it was a bit ropey. A lot of people were learning their positions in the squad.
"Players were learning about coaches and coaches were learning about players. Everyone has grown together and the cogs on the wheel are turning nicely. If we manage to get the right result against Scotland then it is exciting times ahead."
When Foden was a new face in the squad, England's coaches were accused of being overly proscriptive and not allowing players the freedom to express themselves.
The rugby on show was not helped by the law interpretations at the time, but England lacked ambition and belief in what they were doing. This time last year, according to Nick Easter, there was "conflict" in the camp over how England should be playing - but that has changed.
Foden, Chris Ashton, Ben Youngs and Courtney Lawes are among the young and confident characters to have established themselves over the last 12 months and that has been reflected in the performances. Foden realised recently that things were things were beginning to come together promisingly.
Asked when this became apparent he said: "Over the last three games. The Wales game was a massive stepping stone for us. We knew it would set the tone of the whole competition. The big test was France - two unbeaten teams playing in a big crunch match. It was pressure a lot of players, including myself, had not experienced before and to come through that with the unbeaten tag was massive for us.
"With every game we have played we are learning and getting better and better. We learned a hard lesson when we lost to South Africa in the autumn. It could have happened again against France but we showed a massive maturity and showed we are growing with each performance."
Despite Foden's confidence, he insists England must not allow complacency to creep into the camp as they prepare to face a Scotland side yet to win. Foden knows that, in a World Cup year, the Six Nations can act as a springboard.
"We have a lot of work to do, we are by no means the finished article," he said. "Even if we are the top nation in the northern hemisphere, we know that come World Cup time we will be underdogs compared to New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
"We have got to ready ourselves for that. It is in New Zealand's back yard, they are ranked number one in the world so if you want to go there and win you have to be firing on all cylinders. Everything rides on each game now. We know it will make Scotland's Six Nations campaign if they can beat us in our own back yard.
"We know Scotland are capable of beating anyone on their day and if we don't play the rugby we want to play we will get turned over. It won't be hard for us to get up for the game because of what lies on each game as it comes now. It is massive we get the right result."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown