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New England rugby role for Northampton's Ben Foden

Northampton Saints & England rugby player Ben Foden Photo: ITV Anglia

Northampton Saints rugby star Ben Foden has a new role to play for England in tomorrow's (June 9) First test with South Africa in Durban.

Foden will start on the left wing instead of full back, where he has played throughout his international career. Mike Brown, who plays for Premiership champions Harlequins, replaces Foden at number 15.

The 26 year old is one of six Saints players on duty tomorrow. Hooker Dylan Hartley and winger Chris Ashton also start, with three others - Paul Doran-Jones, Phil Dowson and Lee Dickson on the bench. Scrum-half Dickson is replaced by Leicester's Norfolk born star Ben Youngs.

As for Foden's switch, England head coach Stuart Lancaster is confident his bold tactical thinking will pay off. He believes having two full-backs on the field will improve the team's defences under high balls while both players also offer an adept kicking game.

The decision was hastened by a calf injury to wing David Strettle, but Lancaster had been considering the option since arriving in South Africa for the three-Test tour last week.

"Mike has had an outstanding season," Lancaster said. "He brings a left-footed kicking game and great aerial skills along with Ben.

"Ben is obviously a great strike runner as well. He has been great about it and he can see the benefits of how this can open his game up.

"When you make these decisions there is an element that wonders how he will go in this situation but we have had 10 days together, and we have worked on it for those 10 days.

"Sometimes you have to make brave decisions and, from my point of view, it is the right decision for the team and it is going to benefit the team massively, hopefully."

The pair will form a back three with right winger Chris Ashton, who played full-back in his rugby league days with Wigan.

"It is a great opportunity to see them together and, if training is anything to go by, we should be excited by those combinations," Lancaster said.

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