Rugby Comment: Talented France at most dangerous at home

LAST year we did well in the Six Nations right up until the last game in Wales and we’re all focused on going one better this time. We want to get off to a good start against France in Paris tomorrow and after that we’ll see what happens.

France finished with the wooden spoon last year and won just one of their last six games, and, while it is something of a cliche, you never quite know what team will turn up when you face them.

FORM OF MY LIFE
But their squad is unbelievably talented and full of great runners, and when they click they are very dangerous. They only narrowly lost to South Africa and the All Blacks during the autumn and we know they often play better at home, in front of an expectant crowd.

I’m set to be on the bench, with Mike Brown starting at full-back. He played really well during the autumn so it’s fair enough that he gets another chance. I feel like I’ve done all I can to put pressure on him, though. The shoulder injury that kept me out earlier in the season is out of my mind now, I’m 100 per cent fit and ready to go. My confidence is high and I feel like the form I’ve managed to sustain over the last six weeks has been the best of my life.

HARD-WORKING ASHTON
Chris Ashton, my Saracens team-mate, has been left out this week. He has been playing really well and always works hard at his game – that will be the same now as he looks to force his way back in. Chris has an exceptional work ethic; I saw him on Wednesday back at the training ground, getting his head down, training hard and getting on with it.

With the Rugby World Cup on the horizon it is only going to make competition for places even more fierce. There will be a few with their eye on the No15 shirt – everyone wants to play in a home World Cup, and, though people in the dressing room aren’t talking about it just yet, that should bring out the best in us.

I have great memories from last year’s Six Nations, my first as a senior England player. Up until the kick-off, the Wales fixture stands out for atmosphere, while digging deep to win in Ireland and putting on one of our best attacking displays against Scotland were also highlights. They are all big games, in massive stadiums and steeped in history – it’s exactly what you play rugby for.

Alex Goode plays for Saracens and England. Saracens meet Harlequins in an Aviva Premiership London derby at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 22 March. For tickets visit www.saracens.com or call 0844 847 1876.