WHEN Akeem Foster arrived in Winnipeg, traded here by the B.C. Lions in exchange for pivot Buck Pierce, the Canadian receiver made no secret he was hungry to see his former squad on the opposing side of the field.
"Oh, of course," Foster said on Sept. 11, his first day practising in blue and gold. "Not even a question. I'm not even going to elaborate on that. I'll let my play speak for itself at that point."
Well, now it's time for Foster to let those hands and feet do the talking. The 26-year-old Ontarian will get his start against his former team tonight, a chance to play out every athlete's post-trade revenge fantasy.
But after going through the Bombers' walkthrough Thursday, Foster kept his emotions tightly in check; he's not an emotional guy like that, he said.
"It's going to be an important game for myself, and this team," Foster said of the squad he won a Grey Cup with in 2011. "Obviously, it's going to be fun to be out there with the boys, guys that I grew up with and came into the league with. It's going to be exciting, but at the end of the day I still want to knock somebody's head off."
The Bombers believe he is ready to do just that. He has to be: under the CFL's ratio rules, using three American offensive linemen means the Bombers will play three Canadian receivers to start.
Last week, head coach Tim Burke said he thought Foster looked to be shaking off some rust in the loss to Edmonton; after all, he'd barely played this season before he was traded.
After the tilt, Foster said, coaches took him aside and told him they'd treat it like his pre-season game. So this week he buckled down, and coaches took note.
"Much more crisp routes, and better understanding of how we want to run the routes," Burke said on Thursday, adding that Foster has learned the offence quickly. "I think that just his experience in playing is really going to help us."
Specifically, his three-plus seasons of experience playing with the B.C. Lions will be quite a help. Foster said he knows "everything" about their approach, so naturally Burke and company picked his brain.
"We asked him how (Lions offensive co-ordinator) Jacques Chapdelaine thinks as he approaches the game," Burke said. "How does he game plan, what is he looking for, those are the questions we asked, as opposed to schemes.
"We know what they're doing, Xs and Os-wise. It's just, why are they doing it? Who will they try to attack? What do they see as our weaknesses?"
The Lions are "well-coached and well-prepared" squad, Foster agreed, but that doesn't mean the outcome of tonight's game is guaranteed.
"If we execute at a high level, we can beat these guys," Foster said.