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Cohen - tour results not paramount

Former England winger Ben Cohen feels the team's tour to South Africa may simply serve as a "fact-finding" mission for coach Stuart Lancaster, with match results being of little real significance.

Lancaster and his players departed on Wednesday for the three-Test trip, their first tour abroad under the 42-year-old. Cohen has no doubt the group will be geared up to try and win the games, but believes performances are likely to be the most important thing at this early stage of the build-up to the 2015 World Cup.

Cohen told Press Association Sport. "They have talent in abundance, so let's see if they can use it. You have to look at your definition of success - what do they want to get out of it? They might say they don't care if they lose all the games and that it is just about wanting to see how the players perform under pressure."

He added: "This could be a complete fact-finding tour and he (Lancaster) can use that - there is nothing to lose.

"If this was a tour just before the World Cup, then you would say we were looking to take the South Africans on and win, but more than three years out this is just good experience for the boys.

"At the same time, in sport, whatever you do you like to win and these boys will want to go out and win. They will be up for it, no doubt."

There has been some talk about the possibility of moving Ben Foden to the wing for England and playing Mike Brown at full-back. Cohen admits the tour offers a chance for such experimentation, but he is a big fan of Foden in his conventional position.

"I think Ben Foden has really grown into the full-back role," the 33-year-old said. "When he was first there, I thought he was a bit suspect, but I think he is turning into a great international, a world-class one.

"Would I move him? No I wouldn't, but again - they can afford to do it because they are going to try different combinations and there is no harm in that.

"Brown is a good, rounded player and he has shown that this season. There is no harm in having a bit of a mix around, but generally I would keep Foden around the back there - he is very good in counter-attacks and under the high ball, and he is solid."


From Belfast Telegraph