Saracens star: Semi-final defeats provide Goode motivation for new campaign
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Saracens’ Alex Goode admits Heineken Cup and Premiership semi-final losses last season were painful to take – but the England full-back believes that can serve as valuable motivation for the upcoming campaign.
A Jonny Wilkinson-inspired Toulon edged a narrow European thriller at Twickenham in April, while Northampton Saints discarded the Premiership form-guide to collect an unlikely semi-final success on Saracens’ soil in the league just weeks later.
While it may have been a successful season for Goode on a personal note – he started all of England’s Six Nations fixtures – Saracens finished the season empty-handed, and he is determined to shake off the club’s ‘nearly men’ tag as he looks ahead to the new season.
“I think we are bitterly disappointed, personally and collectively, because we put ourselves in a great position and we could have done better,” said Goode.
“We were top of the league, got ourselves into a European semi-final at Twickenham and unfortunately we had a close game and we lost it to Toulon, which was a game we could have won – and the semi-final versus Northampton was another huge disappointment.
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“The Northampton game was hard to take and they played really well. Being on the team on the other end, they played unbelievably well and they deserved to win that day, which is disappointing.
“We pride ourselves on physicality and the way we play and it was missing that day and they took advantage of that – so I think that’s something we were obviously disappointed about.
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“Hopefully that frustration will spur us on that little bit more for next year. If ever there is extra motivation to help so be it. It’s obviously a disappointing scenario but, for me, that extra motivation is fantastic.”
Saracens’ first competitive challenge of the season is the J.P. Morgan Premiership 7s.
Whether Goode will play is open to debate, but Sarries look set to name a sprinkling of first-team stars in their squad when they take on London Irish, London Wasps and Harlequins on their home turf at Allianz Park.
“I think Saracens have taken it pretty seriously over the last few years,” said Goode. “We’ve won it once or twice, we’ve been in the final and we want to win it. We really enjoy it, and it’s a great way to get people going and to start the season well.
“It’s just a great game – you get to really express yourself more. It’s a testament to your physicality, your speed, your fitness and all your skills are highlighted in a very likeable environment.
“First of all everyone wants to win silverware, and I think it sets a good tone for the rest of the season.
“If you win there or you put some good performances in there, it raises the bar – and the players that are coming back from England or the Lions think ‘right, we need to make sure we’re playing well’, and it just adds that competition in the squad that everyone wants.”
The third leg of J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby 7s will be at Allianz Park, the home of Saracens, on Saturday August 3.
For tickets and more information visit www.jpmorgan7s.com or follow @jpmorganrugby7s