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Mike Brown may be Mr Angry but I’m no Mr Softie! – Alex Goode

Alex GoodeAlex Goode reckons he is ready for an England recall – and proved it with a match-winning display for Saracens against Bath last week despite wearing the wrong boots!

Multi-talented full-back Goode, 26, won the last of his 16 caps against Wales in last year’s Six Nations but is in line to replace Mike Brown against Ireland this weekend should the Harlequins regular fail to shake off the concussion he sustained against Italy.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster confirmed as much in midweek and Goode is excited by the prospect of returning to Ireland’s Aviva Stadium stronghold, where he starred for England during their hard-fought 12-6 victory there two years ago.

“You want to be part of that again,” Goode told The Rugby Paper. “It’s a dream come true to be involved with England and there’s real pride, so hopefully I’ll get a chance.

“First and foremost, it was a horrendous collision Brownie got and you’d rather get your chance through form than injury, but I feel I’ve been knocking on the door.

“I’m happy with my form, but with England winning and keeping the same team they’re looking for consistency and I understand that. It’s difficult popping in and out each week but you’ve got to keep putting your best foot forward and show you’re a top player.”

While Brown is known as the ‘Angry Man’ on account of his ultra-competitive nature, Goode cuts a far calmer and collected figure in the heat of battle.

But that should not be construed as a weakness, he insists: “I don’t want there to be a perception that I’m softer or less intense on the pitch. I’m as competitive as anyone else out there and for me it’s just a different way to go about it. It’s about making sure I’m calm in my own mind so that I can make good decisions and make my tackles, which you have to do at the highest level with England.”

Goode’s man-of-the-match performance against Bath, in which he demonstrated his versatility by deputising at fly-half for injury victim Charlie Hodgson and notching 14 points with the boot, was achieved in somewhat unusual circumstances.

He explained: “I was happy with the way I went about the game with the high balls, counter-attacking opportunities and stepping in as first or second receiver. The kicking was a bonus because I actually had our coach’s boots on.

“Mine split in the warm-up and (kicking coach) Dan Vickers had a very old pair that were half a size too big, but I gave it a go and didn’t miss.

“I’ve always prided myself on my kicking and it’s a real point of difference over other full-backs. There are people who try their hand at kicking and do all right and then there’s someone like myself, who can consistently step up and knock them over.

“It’s something I prided myself on when I was younger and played at No.10, so I’ll always keep practising even if I don’t always get a chance to do it in games.

“Last year, I had the best percentage of all the players in the league. Perhaps that will surprise people but it’s something I practise a lot with Dan.”

Goode’s ability as an 80 per cent kick could come in handy in the Dublin cauldron if George Ford succumbs to the pressure and fails to find his range.

But Saracens boss Mark McCall believes Goode is worth his place anyway, telling TRP: “Alex was phenomenal against Bath and all our good attack came through him. He’s got time on the ball, makes good decisions and he’s a great last line of defence.

“Kicking’s not his only point of difference as a fullback; he can act as a midfield receiver and is a great distributor.

“Alex is playing superb rugby and I’d have no hesitation putting him in an England team. Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell have a lot of faith in him as well.”

With the exciting Ford and Jonathan Joseph finally making England’s attack tick, Goode adds: “It’s great to see and you really want to be part of that team.”

NEALE HARVEY

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