Alex Goode, the European Player of the Year, believes the constant criticism and claims of salary cap breaches has helped turn Saracens into triple Heineken Cup champions.
Saracens defeated Leinster 20-10 in Newcastle, a win that confirmed their status as the best club team in Europe and Goode’s personal award only increased questions about why he is being ignored by England.
As he celebrated another Cup triumph, Goode denied his individual success increased the frustration of being ignored by England head coach Eddie Jones who is unlikely to take the full back to the World Cup in Japan.
Goode told RugbyPass: “Getting the Player of the Year award is the icing on the cake. I am so happy to be part of this club and I love winning with these boys. I don’t worry about that( England), I worry about how I am playing and I am really happy I contributed today and during the campaign. Of course the criticism of the club hurts and playing wise it brings us closer together and it makes us fight harder for each other. No one ever wants our achievements to be diminished and European club rugby is the hardest competition in the World.
“To win three of them is amazing and when you are successful sometimes it is hard to be loved. People have thrown stuff at us over the years calling us London South Africa and criticising the way we play but, ultimately, lots of people would love to be in our team and part of this organisation. “
Premiership rugby is investigating the latest claims of a salary cap breach revolving around co-investments owner Nigel Wray has with leading players, including Owen Farrell and Richard Wigglesworth. Previously, Saracens were castigated for the number of South African players in their squad but have worked hard to dismiss that tag and the current team features key players who have come through their successful Academy system. Even their problems attracting sell out 10,000 crowds to Allianz Park has been used to propagate the view that they lack the kind of support normally associated with their kind of success at home and in Europe.
Goode, who has seen the transformation of the club into Europe’s best , added: “I marvel at everyone in the front line who put in those big defensive hits and people talk about is being airy, fairy and fluffy but we pride ourselves in our togetherness and culture. We make sure we lose that respect from our peers and coaches and it is about showing that with our actions out there. Brad (Barritt) epitomises that with the way he hits and hits again. To a man everyone was outstanding against Leinster and it was a very special day.”