BEN FODEN has appealed to Martin Johnson not to take the ‘Splash’ out of Ash in this RBS Six Nations as his team-mate Chris Ashton continues to run riot in Europe’s top rugby competition.
Ashton has ignited an argument in English rugby about his flamboyant try celebrations, his swallow dive nicknamed “The Splash” causing controversy in last weekend’s hammering of Italy.
‘I think that Johnno might get him in and some point and say “stop taking the mickey now” just because if he dropped the ball he would look like a bit of an arse,’ Foden said.
‘But the more you get to know him, the more you realise you can’t take things like that away from him and change his personality.
‘Rugby does need characters. People want to see that, the way that he trains and approaches games is reflected in the way that he scores tries, it’s just a celebration at the end of the day.
‘We have got young guys and guys who have burst upon the scene grabbing their chance with both hands, so they should enjoy it for what it is.
‘It is what he is all about. He was always going to do it if he got the chance, just to say I am playing the rugby of my life, I am scoring the tries so just let me do what I need to do.
‘You never know what’s around the corner, but we are riding high at the moment and confidence is a massive thing in professional sport.’
Ashton has already scored six tries in this year’s Championship and one more against France on Saturday will break the record for an Englishman in the tournament.
‘I think that if you put together a World XV team now, he would be there, from a winger you just want him scoring tries, nine tries in nine caps says it all,’ Foden said.
Grand Slam champions France will provide England’s stiffest test, at Twickenham on Saturday, Caveman Sebastien Chabal already billing the game as the tournament decider.
Foden knows the key to scoring against France. England came so close last season, losing just 12-10 in Paris, Foden scoring the only try, one of the best of the Championship.
‘The French play with so much flair. On any day they can topple any team. But if you can take them away from that they don’t like to play away from that comfort zone, that’s when teams topple them, but the French are a good team, they have got a vast amount of good players,’ Foden said.
‘Last year we proved that we can push them close but couldn’t quite beat them in their own backyard. Their record coming to Twickenham isn’t the greatest so that a positive for us, we can focus on that.
‘The way we are playing now we have just got to rely on the style of rugby that we want to play, our coaches Brian Smith and Mike Ford have come up with tactics.
‘If we can believe in ourselves as a team we have got the guys who are capable of winning, if we are going to look towards the World Cup and think we have got a chance.
‘This is a massive game, the two unbeaten playing against each other.’
As his Northampton team mate Ashton hits the heights, Foden has had a quieter Six Nations, not scoring for England since that clash in Paris almost a year ago.
‘I have not really hit fifth gear this season, so I am hoping that there is still a little bit more to come,’ said Foden. ‘I have probably become a little more conservative this year.
‘The Northampton coaching staff Jim Mallinder and Dorian West said they want to see that bit more consistency, playing well week in and week out.
‘I have been working hard this season on my kicking and my positioning, I still think I can play with flair and if I get the ball against the French I can do that.
‘I always want to run the ball back, it’s one of my strengths, and I know there is a lot more to come from me.
‘I don’t play second fiddle to him but we understand each other, if Ashy isn’t on the wing, I’ll happily drop in the corner and take the easy winger tries.’
Ben Foden took part in an England Rugby team driving day with Land Rover, a partner of England Rugby. To win VIP tickets to RBS 6 Nations games: www.landrover.co.uk/rugby