A clean sweep

Ahead of the Investec Internationals, skysports.com's Julian Crabtree caught up with Ben Foden who is determined to help England beat New Zealand on Saturday

Last Updated: 03/11/10 5:28pm

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Foden: ready for All Black challenge

Foden: ready for All Black challenge

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England's clash with the All Blacks on Saturday marks the beginning of a tough autumn for Martin Johnson's men which will see them also take on Australia, Samoa and South Africa in the Investec Internationals.

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The Kiwis saw their 15-match winning streak come to an end against Australia in Hong Kong on Saturday, but England full-back Ben Foden believes that will make it an even tougher contest.

"It does not get bigger than this really," Foden told skysports.com.

"Win or lose in Hong Kong, they are still a force to be reckoned with and it is great to be able to test ourselves against the best in the world.

"I have grown up watching my idols like Mils Muliaina and Richie McCaw so to come up against them is going to be very special for me.

"I think we have got it within the team to beat these guys and to do it at home will be very special. It will show us whether we are there or there abouts and what parts of our game we need to work on."

Underdogs

Foden is also well aware that the good feeling in Camp England after their summer win in Australia could all come tumbling down on Saturday, but he also insists that there is more pressure on New Zealand.

"It may be at home but we are going into this game as underdogs. We don't have much to lose while they have this massive reputation and with the World Cup looming in their own backyard they must be feeling the pressure. If we can do a job on them, then that will really help us mentally and could plant that little seed of doubt in their minds."

Foden's own game is built around the free-flowing, ball-in-hand game that fans love to see. He is exciting on attack and his individual brilliance has won him many plaudits. However he is also wise enough to realise that playing pretty does not always mean you win. And winning is what is most important to him.

"England are supposed to be one of the best teams in the world, we all know that and strive for that," added the 25-year-old.

"We want to win all our games and do our best to achieve that. Sometimes it doesn't go to plan, but that does not mean we are a bad team. As a player the first and foremost thing is to get the result, get the win at all costs. Obviously we want to win by playing great rugby, throwing the ball out wide and playing free flowing rugby, but if we have to grind out a tight win that is just as rewarding for us.

"We have something in this squad - call it a spark or whatever. We have players who can mix it up with different styles and that bodes well. It's a matter of finding out which tactics and blend work best for us."

The RFU may be targeting just two wins out of the four games, but that is definitely not enough for Foden.

"We want to turn Twickenham back into the fortress it once was and make teams dread coming to play us here," said the Northampton star.

"Two wins is not good enough - we need to be targeting all these games, especially if we want to be competitive in next year's World Cup. These are the teams we need to beat one after the other next year.

"I think they will all be very close but we don't want to be coming in an unlucky second - we want to win them all. I don't think it helps us going into these games with the mentality that two wins is acceptable. It's not for us."

Battle for positions

While Foden has retained the No.15 jersey for the All Blacks game, he is well aware of the likes of Delon Armitage and Nick Abendanon breathing down his neck. And he loves it.

"I would not expect anything less from Delon and Nick - they are great players and great guys. When Delon was playing for England he was in great form and I had to wait for my chance. He got injured so I took my chance but I have to keep on improving.

"I have been working hard on parts of my game like my defence and always looking at whether my performance justifies my England selection. There is a lot of pressure from others who want your spot, but that is the way I like it, I thrive on that."

Ben Foden was speaking ahead of England's Investec Internationals beginning Saturday 6 November. Matches against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa are live on Sky 3D, Europe's first in-home 3D channel. Visit www.sky.com/3D for more information.

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