NEW Zealand might have beaten us last weekend, but this group of England players has shown the potential to go forward to the 2015 World Cup and that we can match the world’s best on any day.
We know we’re not the finished article and must learn from defeats, like we did after Wales in the Six Nations. One challenge for sure is to be more clinical in attack because, as the Kiwis have shown us and South Africa have proven, the best teams will punish you for any mistakes.
Memories of last year’s win were still fresh and there was a sense of anticipation among the boys as the bus pulled up to the ground. The atmosphere was palpable as we walked into the changing room with only one thing on our minds: victory.
I’ll never forget the national anthem that day. It’s always my favourite point as my adrenaline is at its highest and I feel most nervous. All I could see was a white wall and hear the noise that reverberated around Twickenham. The excitement built as the Kiwis started the Haka. All fans look forward to witnessing the Haka, but facing it as a player is special – to look their players in the eye and accept this unique challenge.
As a team we knew the challenge awaiting us. But the start was not as we planned, some lapses letting New Zealand race to a 17-3 lead.
This England team has grown hugely over the last 12 months, though, and the character and work ethic that has been instilled in us enabled us to fight back and gain a 22-20 lead. The All Blacks are the world’s best for a reason and they showed how clinical they can be when you make just one mistake in your own half. Now back at Saracens and we have a huge game at Exeter tomorrow. They’ve gone from strength to strength in recent years and very few teams have got a result down there.
We’ve been in good form, however, and it’s great to come back into a confident environment. The change of setup is easy to manage because Saracens make you feel right at home – and you know there must be a team trip around the corner!
Alex Goode plays for Saracens and England. Saracens host Sale Sharks on Saturday 30 November at Allianz Park.
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