- Saracens full back eager to "win territorial battle" against Boks
- I would be in any position. I am just happy to be on the pitch getting a cap for England – Goode
Alex Goode is looking forward to embracing the “intensity” of Test rugby after being handed a maiden England start and is excited about the chance to shine in Saturday’s series finale against South Africa in Port Elizabeth.
One of Saracens’ most consistent performers over the past few seasons of the Aviva Premiership, Goode also expressed gratitude that his showings at club level have given way to international recognition.
“I have had a few years of playing Premiership rugby and knocking on the door, so to get my chance in this final Test is a real honour,” he said. “Hopefully I will be able to showcase some of my skills.
Despite starting out as a fly half and progressing through the England age-groups in that position, the 24 year-old has spent the majority of his professional career in the number 15 jersey and seemed confident about his chances of translating domestic form onto the biggest stage.
“Full back is my position now. I have played there for the last four years and I feel happy there,” Goode continued. “I think I’ve certainly developed kicking and passing skills thanks to my experiences at fly half, though. That is something I can bring in as a second receiver or on the blindside.
“That should test the defence that little bit more and take the pressure off the half-backs so we can win the territory battle and play some rugby in their half. We know how devastating the Springboks can be when we are in our 22.”
“As far as I am concerned, I just want to play – that could be in any position. I am just happy to be on the pitch getting a cap for England.”
Having served a lengthy apprenticeship in the Saxons set-up since making his debut for the second-string against Portugal back in January 2009, Goode has been in regular contact with Stuart Lancaster.
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Although he acknowledged that such familiarity was a factor in his selection, Goode also looked forward to the finer aspects of the weekend’s clash against South Africa, notably the hosts’ relentless kicking game:
“Knowing Stuart well helps me because I am aware of what he wants from a full back. At the end of the day though, Test rugby is about the small details – whether you are up to the intensity and what you bring to the party.
“Hopefully I am up to the task on Saturday because I am looking forward to putting my stamp on the game.
“I tend to talk a lot and I’d like to think that communication was a big attribute to my game. I take it as a personal loss against their fly half if he manages to get a 60-metre kick downfield and into touch because I am not covering properly.
“To do that, I need to be constantly talking to the wingers and whoever might be back there with me. If people know what is going on all the time, they feel more secure and you can work things well.”
Given the significant influence of the Rainbow Nation at Saracens from senior players like Schalk Brits, Neil de Kock and World Cup-winning captain John Smit, Goode appeared well aware of the specific challenges that lie in wait in what is sure to be a hostile environment.
“I had a brief chat to John Smit before I came over, he told me about what to expect. I’ve been over here five or six times so I’m friendly with a lot of South Africans, which helps you get a feel for what they’re like.
The rugby culture is an amazing thing, especially what the sport means to the general public. That side of it is phenomenal. Everyone is telling you that you are going to lose and you have no chance. I guess you just have to smile and be polite back.”