Alex Goode has greater motivation than proving Eddie Jones wrong this weekend — the Saracens fullback will realise his grandfather’s dream by gracing the Barbarians line-up at Twickenham.
Goode’s late grandad, Dr John Vallance-Owen, was good friends with Barbarians president Micky Steele-Bodger. So when the 29-year-old runs out in the famous invitational side’s black and white against England, he will do so full of family pride.
Goode remains surplus to requirements with England — with Jones challenging overlooked players to reverse his thinking — but the double Champions Cup winner remains level-headed about that Test shutout.
A chance to face England may be the ideal platform to prove a point, but Goode has refused to narrow his focus.
“My grandad was best mates with Micky Steele-Bodger, unfortunately he’s passed away but he always talked about the Barbarians games he saw from many years ago down in Cardiff at the Arms Park,” said Goode.
“I think Micky had always wanted for me to play in the Barbarians shirt. I love my rugby history and this is a dream come true.
“My granddad passed down all the stories of Micky and the Barbarians. I think he’d be proud. My grandma’s still with us and while she’s not such a big rugby fan I know she’ll be excited.”
Goode jumped at the chance to join the Barbarians on Tuesday, having shrugged off Saracens’ disappointments at their 18-16 Premiership semi-final loss to Exeter Chiefs.
No-nonsense boss Jones can rightly point to the record 18-Test winning streak in preferring Mike Brown to Goode at fullback.
But Jones recently explained Goode and other Saracens’ absence from the entire England squad by insisting “sometimes you can be a great player in a great side but not necessarily a great Test player”.
Goode will happily meet Jones’ challenge but will bid to do so with minimal fuss and by respecting the England head coach’s position.
“I’ve got to try to change that opinion really, it’s his decision,” said Goode.
“I’ve got to sway his mind. I’ve just got to keep playing well and it’s a chance to play well at the weekend. The only thing I can do is focus on my game and what I’m doing.
“I’m lucky to be part of a great club at Saracens where we have big games. I just put my best foot forward there. I’m really happy with my form so all I can do is play well and put my best foot forward. The rest is out of my hands.”
Alex Goode at Barbarians training in London. David Rogers/Getty Images For Barbarians
Jones recently admitted he wants to add an extra dimension of size to England’s backline, but Goode believes the best sides still thrive on variety.
“The best three players of the last 15 years, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Brian O’Driscoll, none of them could bench press 100kgs by the end but each of them were unbelievable rugby players,” said Goode.
“That set them apart, that nous, skill and technique.
“I trust my step, footwork and ability to tackle, and it’s still there. There have always been big men but the best back lines in the world are a combination of physicality, speed and understanding.”
Both David Strettle and now Chris Ashton have left Saracens for France, in part over being ignored by England.
Goode insisted he has no plans to follow suit right now however — especially given Saracens’ stunning success and hard-forged club spirit.
“Never say never but I love Saracens,” said Goode when quizzed on whether he would ever move to France.
“They’ve done a lot for me and I’m certainly not going to leave while we feel we’re on this journey of trying to get better and better.I just want to stay as long as they’ll keep me!
“Look certainly it’s not for me at the moment — but my mum is a French teacher, so…
“But seriously, I’m hugely content at Saracens. I certainly don’t see myself leaving for another club in England.”
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Goode motivated beyond England snub
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