Lancaster delighted as Saints star Foden returns for England

BACK IN THE RED ROSE - Saints full-back Ben Foden in action for England against Argentina
BACK IN THE RED ROSE - Saints full-back Ben Foden in action for England against Argentina

England coach Stuart Lancaster admitted he was delighted to see Saints full-back Ben Foden back in an England shirt after a season of injury problems.

Foden missed the Autumn internationals and Six Nations due to a serious ankle injury, but he played his part in England’s 32-3 win over Argentina in Salta on Saturday night.

Foden entered the fray as a second-half replacement as England, captained for the first time by Saints‘ Tom Wood, eased to a comfortable victory after opening up a 25-0 first-half lead.

“It was nice to get Ben Foden back on the pitch,” said Lancaster.

“He has had a frustrating time, and it was good to get him back on.”

Lancaster also hailed Christian Wade’s eye-catching Test debut in the victory over the Pumas.

Wade was at the heart of a thrilling attacking performance in the opening 40 minutes and he was involved in the first three tries - scored by David Strettle, Billy Twelvetrees and Ben Morgan - as England stormed into a commanding lead.

Argentina tested England’s defensive resolve in the second half and Saints lock Courtney Lawes, who had also come on as a second-half replacement, was sent to the sin bin for a breakdown offence but Billy Vunipola wrapped up the victory with a try in the last minute.

“Christian did what he does in the Premiership. He sets our attack alight and he causes problems in defence,” Lancaster said.

“A lot of the unseen work he did was effective, his positional play and his defensive kick-chase.”

Lancaster confirmed there had been no contact from the British and Irish Lions, who need to replace the injured Tommy Bowe, regarding Wade or any of England’s back three players.

Wade was not the only man to shine. Ben Morgan was back to his destructive best and Dave Attwood picked apart the Argentina lineout.

David Wilson led England’s dominant scrummaging performance and Matt Kvesic enjoyed an accomplished debut on the openside flank, securing quick ball and acting well as a link man.

With that forward dominance, the England back division, with Lee Dickson at srum-half, shone.

“England were accurate and played with intensity and pace which the Pumas struggled to deal with,” Lancaster said.

“In attack our intent to play and the speed and tries were excellent.”

England defended for long periods of the second half and succeeded in keeping Argentina out.

Lancaster was impressed with their resilience but he will drill into them the importance of discipline after a series of penalties which ended up with Courtney Lawes being sin-binned.

“The Pumas made it very difficult in the second half and we need to improve going into next week,” he said.

“Argentina had 70 per cent possession in the second half so I was pleased not to concede a try but we can’t concede 15 penalties next week. We need to improve our discipline in that regard.

Lancaster’s squad head to Buenos Aires tomorrow with the opportunity to complete England’s first ever series clean sweep over the Pumas in Argentina

“A series clean sweep has not been achieved over here and I have plenty to go at in the review, I can assure you,” Lancaster said.

“I want England to develop the type of game that can win at the highest level consistently and in lots of areas we achieved that. The challenge now is to do it for 80 minutes - and that is the challenge for next week.”