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.