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Saracens star Alex Goode won’t bench his England ambitions

Alex Goode in action for England against South Africa during an autumn international match in November. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images Alex Goode in action for England against South Africa during an autumn international match in November. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Monday, January 20, 2014
7:00 AM

Saracens full-back Alex Goode says he has no desire to sit on the bench for England in the upcoming Six Nations and hopes he’s done enough in a Saracens shirt to give head coach Stuart Lancaster a selection headache.

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The 25-year-old put in a masterful display as Sarries scored 11 tries to crush Connacht 64-6 on Saturday and reach the Heineken Cup quarter finals.

Goode ran in a stunning solo try and laid the groundwork for the second of David winger Strettle’s hat-trick, which should at least cloud the opinion of the Red Rose coaches with Mike Brown seemingly top of the No.15 pecking order.

That is a place earned on merit by the Harlequins ace, who impressed in the summer tour of Argentina and the home autumn internationals after Goode - who played all five games in last year’s Six Nations - was forced to miss the South America series as he underwent shoulder reconstruction surgery.

From today Goode will get a further chance to push his case for a starting berth in the opening game against France when he joins up with England’s 35-man training squad at Surrey’s Pennyhill Park.

“All I can do is put a run of games together, like I have from the autumn, put my best foot forward and try to show my skills,” said the Sarries man.

“Browny did really well with the shirt and I know that, so I’ve just got to put some good form together and make it tough for Stuart at the coaches.

“I feel like I’m playing well but it doesn’t mean I’m going to get the shirt at all.

“First and foremost I want to start for England. That’s the aim and I certainly didn’t get into rugby to hang around the bench for the rest of my life.

“At times you will have to fulfil that role for the benefit of the team and you’ve got to make sure that when you come on you’re prepared, know your role and you bring something to the party.

“Mike has played well but first and foremost I’d like to be in the England shirt and I think there’s no shame in saying that.

“If it means being on the bench then I like to think I can bring something different and make an impact.”

While Brown, throughout his international career, has been shunted across England’s back three before earning his stripes at 15, Goode confirmed that he only has eyes on the full-back shirt, despite occasionally playing at fly-half for Saracens.

“I see myself as a 15 at the club,” Goode said, adding: “There have been times when I’ve had to fill in at 10.

“I feel I can always do a job there but I think it’s unfair to judge me as a 10 if I’m not playing there week in, week out.

“It would be a big ask to play there internationally.

“I’ve had seven or eight weeks of playing 15. I’ve put in some good performances and that’s where I’ll be going for selection and I’m pretty sure the coach will be of the same view.”

Goode, who previously credited the Saracens medical team for his return from surgery ahead of shedule, said his summer absence proved to be the catalyst for his impressive form of late.

“The lay-off with the shoulder gave me a chance to reflect, look at my own game and think about how I can get better and improve,” he said.

“You can’t stand still with the likes of Browny and [Ben] Foden, [who] at the time, were breathing down my neck.

“It’s always going to be a battle between us and other guys [for the England shirt] so it allowed me to look at my own game and really work in terms of my leg power and strength, work on my speed and tackle-breaking.

“Those were the key areas in terms of physical attributes I wanted to work on, as well as getting my shoulder right. It allowed that.

“It meant when I came back I was in a good place, physically and [I was able to] get a good run of games and have a go.

“When you get a lay-off you have to make the most of it and take it as a positive.

“I was disappointed that I missed the summer tour and I couldn’t get back in time to force my way into the England team, but it allowed me to have the rest to come back stronger, faster and more powerful.”

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