x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Goode welcomes call from old pal Johnson

The team manager Martin Johnson may have had his hand forced in summoning back England's French foreign legion to solve an availability crisis for the autumn internationals, but the problem was not unforeseen.

Andy Goode, front, says the input from the England coaching staff on his performances in France have been helpful.
Andy Goode, front, says the input from the England coaching staff on his performances in France have been helpful.

The team manager Martin Johnson may have had his hand forced in summoning back England's French foreign legion to solve an availability crisis for the autumn internationals, but the problem was not unforeseen. The fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, who is expected to regain the No 10 shirt for the first autumn Test against Australia on November 7, was inked in for a return after rejuvenating his career with a move to Toulon. The Brive stand-off Andy Goode and his colleague Steve Thompson, the hooker, are the other French-based players in the squad.

The players may have been out of sight across the Channel, but they are far from out of mind, according to Goode, who says they have been kept regularly in the loop by the England team management. Johnson watched Thompson and Goode in person in their Top 14 tie with Stade Francais earlier in the season. "We lost 44-16, so it wasn't a great game for Jonno to come to see," said Goode, who deputised for Wilkinson at fly-half during the Six Nations earlier this year. "He has been in touch. He watched our game against Scarlets and they watch the videos of our games every week.

"The coaches have been brilliant. Brian Smith, the backs coach, has been in weekly contact. It is nice getting a weekly phone call to discuss your game knowing they are watching you out here." Goode was Johnson's teammate during two spells with Leicester. He would not consider picking up the telephone and asking him what exactly is required to get into his team, but he says the players are more than aware of what they need to do. "They are all very honest," Goode said of the coaching staff. "You know they are doing a job as well.

"They are not going to tell someone something just because they have played with them, they are going to do their job to the best of their ability, like we are as rugby players. Jonno is well known as being the most honest bloke you will ever meet. "When I first got involved ahead of last year's Six Nations he said if you are playing well and fit, you are the best player to play and win the game for England.

"As a player there is transparency there, and you know what is going to happen. That is exactly what you want as a player." @Email:pradley@thenational.ae