Northampton star Ben Foden has targeted a place among Europe’s elite next season as both he and his club look to test themselves against the best of the best.
Foden has been in superb form for the Saints this season and continues to press for a starting spot with England having been selected to face Argentina and the Barbarians this summer.
The 23-year-old scrum-half cum full back was named the Professional Rugby Players Association Young Player of the Year last week and he admits that the Heineken Cup would be the ideal platform on which to build from such recognition.
"The Heineken Cup is where I personally need to be aiming for and where the club needs to be aiming for," said Foden, who moved to Franklin’s Gardens from Sale Sharks at the beginning of the 2008/09 season.
""We are a club that is going places. Next year is a very big year for us.
"By stepping into the Heineken Cup it will put us in good stead and make sure we are competing against the top teams in Europe."
Foden will be looking to oust the in-form Delon Armitage from England’s No 15 shirt when Martin Johnson’s men face the Pumas and Babaas this summer but he insists that his international aspirations will be put to the back of his mind until Friday’s European Challenge Cup Final against Bourgoin has been dealt with.
"I’m only thinking about this Friday’s game at the moment," added Foden.
"We are focused on winning the European Challenge Cup. Once that’s over I’ll put my England cap on and then get down to work with the national squad."