Foden relishes battle with Armitage
Ben Foden feels his position as England full-back for the World Cup is coming under threat from a revitalised Delon Armitage - and he is relishing the challenge.
Armitage made a scintillating start to his international career and was unfortunate to miss out on selection for the 2009 Lions tour before losing his way. The London Irish full-back, bereft of form and confidence, was eventually replaced in the England team by Foden at the end of the 2010 Six Nations.
Foden scoffed at suggestions Armitage is a certain starter for England in their World Cup opener against Argentina on September 10 in Dunedin, saying: "Delon and I have been competing for that 15 shirt over the last two years and he is looking sharp. I know he is breathing down my neck."
He added: "Delon has taken a lot of stick over the last couple of years but when he was starting for England back in 2009 he was one of the standout players every time he took the field.
"I am pretty sure we will see that Delon Armitage again. He is a great player, very talented.
"He is always pushing. He will get his chance in these (warm-up) games. It is good for me and good for him that we are on top of our games.
"You have to relish that challenge. If anyone shies away from that challenge you wouldn't be involved in the squad because competition is so high. That is a credit to the mentality we have."
Martin Johnson cut his squad down to 40 on Monday, releasing Joe Worsley, George Chuter, Thomas Waldrom, David Strettle and James Simpson-Daniel.
Among those retained in the 40 were Tuilagi and Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples, who was a late call-up into the original squad but has impressed everyone.
"Charlie Sharples is the fastest white guy I have ever seen. We have done some speed tests and Charlie has been putting up some phenomenal scores and he has got a really good work ethos," Foden added.