- Alex Goode on how All Blacks win can be springboard for England
- "Results like that make you believe in yourself a bit more" – Saracens No.15
In the intensely analysed, stats driven world of international sport, belief is an unquantifiable but given its immense value, the victory over the world champions New Zealand could be a seminal moment for this England team.
That’s the view of full back Alex Goode, looking back on the 80 minutes in which England handed the All Blacks their second heaviest defeat in 478 Tests and in doing so changed perceptions of how far Stuart Lancaster’s team can go.
Adding that the RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland cannot come around quickly enough, the Saracens man said: “If you asked any of the guys they would’ve loved the Six Nations to come straight after that week and continue that momentum.
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“But more than anything the New Zealand win gives us belief that what we’re doing is the right thing. In the group we all feel we are a good group of players and have top quality coaches and management but when you get results like that you believe in yourself a bit more.
“We took it to them, we knew we had that performance in us, perhaps a lot of people didn’t but we stuck together, believed in ourselves and that came out in the last game.”
Learned observer and British and Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland said England’s “violent attitude at the breakdown” made the victory possible and the stats confirmed that as the key battleground.
Man of the Match Tom Wood hit an incredible 39 breakdowns, while captain Chris Robshaw engaged in 27 and lock Geoff Parling in 26, and Goode is insistent that level of intensity sets the minimum standards England should adhere to.
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Adding that the New Zealand win is evidence that you get rewards for hard work, even against the best, Goode said: “We targeted the breakdown and wanted to use our physicality and intensity.
“We kept going at them defensively, kept going at them in numbers, kept coming off the line and doing that all day long showed that whoever you are playing against, if you put them under concerted pressure for the whole game you’ll get rewards.
“We need to take that into the Scotland week. We’re in a good place and will be confident, able to take it to them and show we are a good team in the Six Nations too.”
After debuting on the summer tour to South Africa, Goode played every minute of the four QBE Internationals, sparkling by assisting three of the first four tries in the opening win over Fiji.
The 24-year-old impressed with solidity and calmness under the high ball and unerring timing in joining attacks as the extra man from deep. Confident communication is also a marked feature of Goode’s game but there was no danger of him pausing to revel in his early international success; a trip to face Munster at Thomond Park with Saracens quickly followed England’s Hilary Cup win.
“The glory of rugby is that you’re straight back into the club stuff, we didn’t have too long to reflect on it,” he said. “I won’t get ahead of myself – at the club the guys are straight back on top of you giving you a bit of stick but that’s good, it keeps your feet on the ground.”