Not just your average boot
September 5, 2013
The feeling of winning has kept Andy Goode going © Getty Images
By his own admission, Andy Goode is of the "old-school mentality", but he knows there are "only a handful" of his type left and they are still in high demand. He spurned Leicester and Bath to sign for Wasps ahead of this season and, if you want reliability from your fly-half, there are few better than the 33-year-old.
Goode has enjoyed the career most would dream of. Spells in the Top 14, Super Rugby and the Aviva Premiership have occurred alongside 17 Tests for England. His personal trophy haul includes Heineken Cup and league titles. But some still deem him an unfashionable sort of fly-half and, in the view of a minority, he is a figure of ridicule - former team-mate Rod Kafer enjoyed pointing out Goode's thinning hair when commentating on the fly-half's Super Rugby debut for the Sharks.
But for Goode, he has never paid much attention to the detractors. Fiercely loyal to his team-mates, Goode still has that same passion for the game he had when he first started at Leicester back in 1998.
"In reality, perceptions take minutes to make and years to break," Goode told ESPN. "A very wise man once told that opinions are like arseholes: everyone has got one. What people's opinions and perceptions are of me outside of Wasps don't really matter to me. It's the players' and the coaches' thoughts that matter."
And it is that sort of attitude that has seen Goode continually perform at the top level of the game. Okay, he will not break the gainline with the ease Jonathan Sexton does, but he will give Dai Young's men a stable platform at No. 10 and, when you have the free-running and youthful exuberance of Christian Wade, Joe Simpson and Elliot Daly around you, they are getting close to finding the perfect cocktail in their back division.
It will be a nice change of environment for Goode. When speaking to him, although he says he had a "great three years at Worcester", he also claims he "wasn't really known for being a player" while at Sixways. Whether this is the pigeon-holing of Goode's ability as a reliable boot and little else only he and the former Warriors coaching staff know, but he has a new spring in his step at Wasps.
"I don't want to be here just to be in the squad or whatever. I want to play week in week out," Goode added. "If I wanted to be a bit-part player, I'd have gone to Leicester or the other clubs interested.
"If people look at me as just a boot then I'm quite happy with that. That's what you get pigeon-holed for and in terms of people analysing me and thinking that's all I can do then you can maybe have more space to put the backs, and they are bloody good, into space."
Followers of his Twitter account will have seen Goode announcing his pride at being awarded a trophy - complete with chocolate bar and fizzy beverage - for being Wasps' best trainer in pre-season. His attitude has always been "train hard and get your head down". This is a large part of the reason behind his longevity in the game.
Opportunities seldom come for a 33-year-old fly-half to upgrade at contract talks, which many would say is a fair take on his move from Worcester to Wasps. And there is a chance Goode can get better as he will be coached by Stephen Jones this year, the record-breaking Welsh and British & Irish Lions fly-half.
It's a partnership that the pair are enjoying, and one Goode describes as "refreshing".
A chapter in Jones' autobiography reflects on his philosophy behind fly-half play and, when asking Goode his thoughts on what is expected from a No. 10, his characterisation as a mindless boot seems ridiculous. "As a fly-half you have to know, first and foremost, how to manage a game. You must have your core basic skills.
"But a lot of it, for me, is the knowledge of the players you have around you and how to manage the game. There are times when you think it's right to run it from your own 22 and others when it's good to just to f*****g hoof it long and get the boys to chase it. We're all about winning in this game.
"I've seen a few fly-halves with more talent than I have and are a lot quicker, better skill set, but sometimes they make bad decisions and come up wanting. And they are run up their own arse a bit.
"There are times when I get it wrong but you have to be pragmatic at times - you have to take risks. It's high risk, high reward, and what's the right decision for the team."
© PA Photos
It's that sort of rugby brain that, you expect, saw Young approach Goode at the end of last season. His international days are over, but that desire to triumph is still abundantly clear.
"I want to win every game and I lose my head in training most days when people get moves wrong. You can't take that competitiveness out of people and I'm from that old-school environment. The passion is still there - I wouldn't bother playing if not. You put your body through hell, day in, day out.
"A lot of people have said to me: 'Play it for as long as possible.' There are a lot of players who I grew up playing with who are now retired. I don't think there are many of us left.
"These two years I've signed at Wasps could be the last two years of my career - who knows? I'll enjoy every minute of it and while you have to manage your body, you have to give every game all you've got."
It all starts for Goode on Saturday, when Wasps play Harlequins at Twickenham. The top six is his goal for the season but he says he doesn't mind if they win every game 3-0 with eight-man rugby as long as they get that victory.
It's that mentality that has seen Goode continue to compete at the highest level for 15 years. He knows it will eventually come to an end, but he's not ready to bow out just yet and this term you can expect him to add to his 1,841 points in the top flight - a total only Charlie Hodgson has bettered.
"It's a team game and it's all about the team performing well and I'm one man in a 15-man cog to make that happen. I want to play in that Heineken Cup - I'm on 49 games in the tournament and you get a cap when you get to your 50th.
"You want to be playing in the top competition against the best and you don't want to be ending your career dropping down a level. I want to be remembered as a player who has gone out at the top and not having dropped down leagues and leagues."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.