England need some ideas from somewhere: if they are found wanting in the brain department at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tomorrow, as they were during the third quarter of the opening Test in Durban and the first half-hour of last weekend's match in Johannesburg, they will end the series with the Springboks with plenty of nothing. To that end, the head coach, Stuart Lancaster, has turned to the Saracens full-back Alex Goode.
Goode has been responsible for some of the most intelligent rugby in England since Saracens announced themselves as title contenders in 2009. Lancaster has been keeping a steady eye on the 24-year-old playmaker from Cambridge for some months.
"South Africa: that's where he'll get his chance," Lancaster said during this year's Six Nations. He is, however, a week late. Goode should have started in Johannesburg, not been restricted to two minutes off the bench.
"I felt that if I kept knocking out the performances, my opportunity would come," Goode said, after being named in a side showing seven changes, one positional, from that which lost 36-27 at Ellis Park. "If I can defuse the Springbok kicking game by playing some cat and mouse with them, all well and good. But I also want some attacking involvement – to influence the shape of the game."
Lancaster will effectively ask Goode to play as a second fly-half. "Alex understands the game so well," the coach said, "and we're looking to him to bring that understanding to the party."
The other changes were predictable: Danny Care's pace nudged him ahead of Lee Dickson and into the No 9 shirt vacated by the stricken Ben Youngs; Alex Corbisiero's performance off the bench at Ellis Park was enough to end Joe Marler's brief run at loosehead; Tom Palmer was short-priced to replace Mouritz Botha at lock; James Haskell and Thomas Waldrom were obvious back-row contenders once Chris Robshaw was injured and Ben Morgan was dropped.Reuse content