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Six Nations Championship
French connection working for Goode
February 3, 2009
Brive fly-half Andy Goode celebrates victory, Newcastle v Brive, European Challenge Cup, Kingston Park, Newcastle, January 17 2009
Andy Goode has enjoyed a new lease of life at Brive © Getty Images

Andy Goode is ready to take his chance as England's fly-half against Italy after a move to French Top 14 side Brive rejuvenated his flagging career.

Goode was selected by England manager Martin Johnson ahead of Danny Cipriani and Toby Flood, and will make his first international appearance since Novermber 2006 against the Azzurri. He left his long-time club Leicester in the summer of 2008 for France, and has reaped the rewards as the top-scorer in the Top 14.

"I am enjoying the lifestyle over there and enjoying the rugby," said Goode, who has scored 160 points in six games. "I had 10 good years at Leicester but I am now in a different environment, out of my comfort zone in France and picking up different things. At Brive, our training is very skills-based - whereas at Leicester, we were a first-phase-orientated team.

"We are playing a lot of heads-up rugby, and I hope that part of my game has improved a lot. We play what we see and the coaches give you that sort of confidence. It is a different look at the game, and that has broadened my horizons. Playing in France has made me a more rounded individual."

Goode was named in the Saxons squad last summer despite another good season for the Tigers, and consulted Johnson before taking his chances in France.

"I spoke to 'Johnno' before I signed for Brive. He said there are players who are ahead of me - but if they get injured or I play well, then he will take a look," said Goode. "I have always believed in my own ability, and this is an opportunity I always hoped I would get. I have not been involved in two-and-a-half years. It is down to me to take it."

With the England No.10 jersey having changed hands six time in eight Tests, Johnson believes that Goode could now steady the ship as they look to start well in the Six Nations.

"Andy is a different guy to the guy I played with even in my last few years. He probably appreciates what he has got more than he did when he was younger," he said. "Andy will have a good appreciation of what we will try to do. He has played in Test matches and European Cups. He will be a steadying influence on the team. He is a different player to Danny.

"We have told Danny to work on his game understanding, run the game, take that leadership role as a 10."

Johnson brought up Cipriani's celebrity lifestyle as a potential distraction before voicing his hopes that he could find the proper balance between rugby and his personal life.

"If your form dips people will use off-field issues as a reason for it. He needs to find the balance in his life, whatever it is," he said. "It is the same for all these guys. Being able to switch off away from rugby is also important. The key thing is his focus on rugby. When he has been here he has worked hard, he wants to improve and was desperate to be involved. He puts a lot of pressure on himself to perform."

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