It took new Worcester signing Andy Goode just 12 minutes to know his decision to join Super 14 outfit Sharks had been the right one – even though his first appearance for the South African franchise started late and finished early.
Coventry-born Goode came off the bench after an hour of Friday’s clash with Crusaders in Christchurch, with his team trailing 16-6 and looking to their new man to inspire a comeback.
However, less than a quarter hour later Goode was back on the sidelines having gone some way to separating All Blacks’ fly half Dan Carter from his head, with a swinging arm tackle that earned him an unwanted glimpse of referee Chris Pollock’s yellow card.
“It was just a reaction,” Goode insists. “There was no malice or anything, he stepped inside and I left my arm out. The ref was a Kiwi ref and off I went.
“Dan got up, winked and said there was no problem, it was just unlucky.”
Carter brushed himself off and led the pre-season Super 14 favourites to three more tries and a 35-6 victory that leaves the Sharks still searching for their first success after three attempts.
Which is where Goode comes in.
The Durban-based side have recruited the Sixways-bound England international to cover an injury crisis so swingeing they probably weren’t that far from picking up the phone to Moseley’s former Shark Andy Borgen.
Juan Martín Hernández, the Argentina play maker, has a back injury and is out for the season, and Steve Meyer stunned the organisation by announcing his retirement when his girlfriend curled her lip at the prospect of living in Natal’s biggest city.
Goode negotiated his immediate release from Brive and after a calamitous two-day flight from France to Canterbury, in which several connections were missed, he rolled up to face Carter et al on the back of just two training sessions.
On Saturday the former Leicester man will start against rising Wallaby star Berrick Barnes and the Waratahs in Sydney, before decamping to Canberra where Matt Giteau and the Brumbies await.
Eventually, some time in May-June-July time, he will find himself back in England as the No 10 to fulfil all of Mike Ruddock’s dreams at Worcester. Let’s hope so many journeys, do not a journeyman make.
Of that there is little prospect, though. When he does return to the West Midlands the former Bromsgrove School student will be the only England international to have played in the Super 14 and France’s Top 14.
But first a three-month Who’s Who of Southern Hemisphere rugby.
“It was an amazing experience,” Goode says. “As an Englishmen you only see the Super 14 on television and never get the full effect of what it is actually like.
“The atmosphere was amazing and to play the Crusaders, who have been the strongest team over a long time, was perfect. It’s just a shame that the scoreline wasn’t a fair reflection of the game.
“I am really looking forward to the experience over here and playing with so many good Springboks. There are 14 or 15 guys in the squad who have played for South Africa and coach John Plumtree is brilliant.
“My first three games will have been against Dan Carter, probably Berrick Barnes although he plays ten and 12 and Matt Giteau.
“Carter and Giteau are the top two fly halves in the world and it will be amazing to play against those two in what is basically a club competition.
“And the key thing was experiencing the culture and how professional it all is and trying to bring that back to Worcester.
“From what a few of the boys have told me, Mike Ruddock and his coaches have their plans and they’re brilliant but there are chances for players to have their input to try and improve things.
“From that point of view what I pick up in Super 14 will be a valuable experience for me and hopefully Worcester.”
It is the move to Sixways though, that could apply the icing on to what has already been a pretty rich cake.
Ever since Shane Drahm left two and a half years ago Warriors have floundered, with the odd isolated flourish, for consistency in the most crucial position.
Many have come and tried and so far only Willie Walker can claim to have come anywhere like close to succeeding in bringing purpose and direction to the Blue and Gold attacks. Even then there are some who lambast the New Zealander for kicking too much or at the wrong time.
What those critics will get with Goode, though, is a Mr Consistent. His physique and skillset mean he is never likely to be mistaken for Carter, or even Drahm for that matter, but he has a winner’s mentality.
During his time at Welford Road he played a part in four successive Premiership titles and two Heineken Cup crowns. He has won 17 caps for England, most recently last June against Argentina.
Whatever he isn’t, he is a blue chip Premiership player with vast experience and with him in it, Worcester cannot help but he a better side.
“The main attraction was after speaking to Mike Ruddock and seeing Worcester from the point of view of being born in Coventry and going to Bromsgrove School, it is something of a local club for me,” he says.
“They have come a long way but there is still a lot of potential to go even further. One of the big attractions when I signed for Brive was they wanted to get back into the Heineken Cup.
“They had gone from perennial relegation candidates to returning to the highest level. It’s a similar thing with Worcester, I would love to be involved in the first Worcester team to bring Heineken Cup rugby to Sixways.”
If he could do that the former Barkers Butts scrum half would be made a Freeman of the city and that might just make it the best move of all.