Elliot Daly urged to pick a number and stick at it

Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson must switch positions permanently or forget about being England’s long-term answer at full-back, according to former Red Rose incumbent Ben Foden.

While Mike Brown has the No.15 jersey nailed down, England supremo Eddie Jones recently mooted the possibility of giving Daly, a star for Wasps at outside-centre but who started for England on the wing yesterday, or Bath wide man Watson a run at full-back.

However, Foden, who once had to choose between playing scrum-half or full-back before winning the majority of his 34 caps as England’s last line of defence, believes the pair face huge decisions to forsake their regular spots in order to challenge Brown.

Northampton man Foden told The Rugby Paper: “I’ve always been a fan of Elliot Daly, who Eddie has suggested could do a job at 15, but if either he or Watson are serious about being international full-backs they need to be playing week-in, week-out there in high level competitions for their clubs.

“That’s something I learnt when England came knocking for me and I was dithering over whether I was going to play nine or 15. They said if I wanted to play international rugby I had to stick with one or the other and 15 gave me the best opportunity.

“I did that, played my rugby week-in, week-out as a 15 and developed as a player. You need that experience in the Premiership, Champions Cup and all those big club games and then take that form with you when you get an international chance.

“That’s something Mike Brown, Alex Goode and myself did and it worked for us, so if Daly or Watson are serious about taking Browny’s shirt in future, they’ll need to do it for Bath or Wasps or they won’t be ready to cope with the different demands.”

Of Watson’s chances, Foden added: “Watson started as a 15 and has played a bit there, but I love watching him on the wing and think he’s one of the best in Europe. However, Browny’s on the wrong side of 30 and it’s right for Eddie to look long-term.”

Of the other contenders to succeed Brown, Foden sees Mike Haley as a potent force. He said: “Haley’s probably the front-runner. He’s playing in a Sale side that’s not been firing particularly well but has been one of the standout players.

“He looks good going forward and is a real attacking threat, which is what Eddie Jones likes to see. He wants a full-back who is going to beat players and always have that attacking mindset, so Haley suits that position well and deserves a chance.

“Having played against him he’s brave under the high ball and at 22 he’s got age on his side, so, hopefully, he can develop and take the next step.”

Meanwhile, Foden, 31, concedes his own England hopes have receded since a serious knee injury in January 2015 ruined his World Cup chances.

“I’ll never retire from Test rugby but it’s tough to get back from things like that, plus I’m on the wrong side of 30 now and Eddie will look to younger guys,” he said. Foden’s Northampton contract expires in 2018 but rather than follow his great friend Chris Ashton by seeking a move to France, he will fight for a new deal.

He explained: “Ashy’s still a mate and there are players who go to France and enjoy it, but it doesn’t work for others and I’ve never been attracted to leave England.

“I love the Premiership and I’ve invested a lot of time at Northampton, so I’d love to stay here and win the Champions Cup before hanging up my boots.”


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