The Rugby Pod’s Andrew McNair sat down with Saracens & England fullback Alex Goode. Alex is speaking on behalf of Mitsubishi Motors, Official Performance Partner of England Rugby. Mitsubishi Motors is using Intelligent Motion to challenge the team ahead of the Old Mutual Wealth Series through innovative Performance Tests.
Saracens’ dominance was compared to the All-Blacks this week, no mean feat given Hansen’s men have just set yet another record for wins on the trot.
While chatting with Sarries full-back Alex Goode, who epitomises the ruthless efficiency of the European and Premiership championships.
We wanted to kick up some dust on our good friend Jim Hamilton, but were confronted with a response that spoke volumes of Alex’s determination to be the ultimate team player.
What’s the dynamic within the team, and how do you celebrate a big win?
“We certainly pride ourselves on spending a lot of time in and around just after (games) and after training day in day out. These trips away which are brilliant for the practical side because so many of the team have family and kids so we don’t get much time off. You see the success of Alex Lozowski this year, Sean Maitland and Shalk Burger. At the same time the younger guys come on trips and get to know the older guys and allow them to spend time with each other. We really talk about building relationships because we believe that helps on the field. It helps us with our communication, to have an honest talk and be frank. It helps us to respect one another that you’re not going to let each other down because we want to perform at the highest level.”
It’s easy to understand the importance of comradery in a game as physically demanding as Rugby, but big Jim Hamilton is always throwing people under the bus on The Rugby Pod, have you got any stories on him?
“Nah, you can talk about Chris Ashton if you want.” He joked, but went on, “The only thing about Jim is he’s known as ‘Jack story Jim’ because he loves a story, and he never lets the truth get in the way of a good story does Jim. That said I don’t think any of us have seen him train on a Monday or Tuesday this year. He likes to have a good moan and come on the main training days but somehow puts himself out there for the team at the weekends. He’s certainly not one to, as he says, be in the trenches.”
Saracens remain top of the premiership and unbeaten in Europe with many of the supporters sights set on that glorious double again, even if Alex does play it down exclaiming “we’re not getting ahead of ourselves.”
He was quick to point out that taking their eye of the ball for a single game could cost them when they come up against Toulon, Leicester, Clermont and so on.
Andy Goode was very complimentary about Saracens this week. Are there any teams in Europe or the Premiership that worry you?
It’s very nice when people say that (comparing the team to the All Blacks), but we’re very much focusing on ourselves, how we can improve and get better. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. The All Blacks have been the dominant team for many years now so we’ve a long way to go. We respect everyone we play against, every club in Europe and every club in the Premiership because the quality is that high, you have to. We spend a lot of time on our preparation, making sure we analyse and respect the opposition we play against but there comes a point when we go ‘we’re a bloody good side’ and we’ve got a lot of strength in depth as well and we’ve got to use that.
We see players like Mako Vunipola who’s incredibly strong, but has the ability to play quick ball and keep the attack alive. How important is it to have a team packed full of all-rounders?
I think we pride ourselves on adaptability and being able to change your game plan but also we’ve really developed our attacking shape and made everyone a part of that. It’s a 15 man game, you’ve seen over the years the All Blacks have got some of the best ball handlers in the world and other teams haven’t found suit as much. We believe in everyone having their strengths and weaknesses but at the same time we’ve really taken our game to another level in that sense. We can still get a lot better but having people like Mako Vunipola, our second row with George, Jim and Maro who can pass and offload, these are massive strengths. We bring in the hookers like Jamie George and Schalk Brits who years gone by they didn’t exist so we’re very blessed and lucky to have those kind of guys at the club.
As the conversation drew to a close, Alex loosened up and it was great to see the man behind the professional exterior, before uttering the words every journalist dreads, “off the record.”
Nevertheless, we’ll catch up with him again soon enough were you may get more details. And believe you me, rugby story telling time can be just as ruthless as the boys at Allianz Park.