European Player of the Year Goode dreaming of England recall


Alex Goode is still dreaming of an England recall after being named European Player of the Year and says Saracens must "come out throwing punches" in pursuit of another double.

It was not the first time the England forward had been targeted after he was warned by the Rugby Football Union following his apparent defence of Australia full-back Israel Folau, who sparked outrage with an Instagram post that said "hell awaits" drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters.

"We're obviously very gutted", Leinster head coach Leo Cullen began when asked to reflect on his side's 20-10 loss to Saracens in the Heineken Champions Cup final. "Saracens had them marching backwards and every time their big carriers got the ball they were enveloped on the gain line and that was the difference between the two teams". "He's so solid, so reliable and takes everything in his stride".

The physicality which Saracens bring, as Munster found out three weeks ago in Coventry, is incredibly hard to overcome and Cullen admits that their opponents wore them down. "The team ironically started playing better when I was off the pitch".

Vunipola went off near the end and had an ice pack strapped to his shoulder, but early indications suggest it is not a serious problem. "I am hoping it is a bit of a stinger". And if anything illustrates Mark McCall's tenure at the club - he has overseen three European titles now in the last four, plus four Premiership titles with another likely to be just around the corner - it's attention to detail.

The London-based side defeated Irish champions Leinster 20-10 at St. James' Park in Newcastle.

When analysing this defeat, Cullen will no doubt be buoyed by how his side had the newly-crowned European champions under pressure for large periods of the game but equally, there will be a similar level of frustration that they didn't take advantage of some excellent opportunities to put more points on the board.

"He is a very diligent man who leaves no stone unturned".

"But what we needed from him was to do his talking on the field, not off the field, and he's been really good and his team-mates have supported him very well".

"The fact that we have two weeks (preparation) for the semi-final gives us no excuse. That's the way I saw it anyway".

"They are brilliant at assessing what is really happening". Like, you stand out in the tunnel there and you see the size of Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje and Will Skelton in particular, and we don't have access to that many types of players.