CONTROLLING the controlables has long been a mantra in professional sport, and Newcastle Falcons lock James Goode is losing no sleep over factors outside his personal sphere of influence.
The fact Sunday’s Championship date with Leeds Carnegie has been shifted nine miles up the A660 to the old-school splendour of Otley is not reducing him to a cold sweat. In fact, he couldn’t care less.
“The way we look at it is we are going down there to do a job and our entire focus is on that rather than the stands, the pitch or the changing rooms,” said Goode, the 30-year-old who is in his second short-term stint with the club.
“A few of the lads have played there before, our defence coach Graham Steadman has been there and explained to us what it will be like, but it is out of our control.
“It falls into the same category as things like weather, referees and all the rest of it, so there is no point getting overly concerned or spending too much time thinking about it.”
A month and a half since their last league game due to postponements and cup interludes, Newcastle lie 12 points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand on all of their challengers.
Leeds occupy the final one of the four play-off berths,and have bolstered their squad for the final push with the dual capture of Worcester pair Ollie Frost and James Currie.
Ex-Falcons fly-half Rory Clegg is also on board in a loan deal from Harlequins, Goode adding: “The boys can’t wait to get stuck into the league games again.
“Like many teams we have not had as much rugby as we would have liked due to the bad weather.
“We managed to get our cup game played at Cross Keys a week ago but we are now looking forward to the Championship stuff and getting back into it.
“That is what we are here for, trying to get back into the Premiership and wanting to continue our 100% record.”
Expecting to have his hands full against Leeds, Goode said: “Like most teams in this league they will be physical.
“They have a big pack and we are expecting plenty of driving and mauling.
“They seem pretty well-structured and we expect them to test us, but we have done our homework and are well up to the challenge.”
Falcons’ hooker Joe Graham will be ineligible for Leeds on Sunday due to the terms of his loan arrangement, while Newcastle’s Italian lock Carlo del Fava hopes to return against Rotherham on March 2 after breaking his thumb.
Fellow Falcon Scott Wilson lines up for England under-20s tonight against an Ireland team containing club-mate George McGuigan, the international game also on Goode’s mind following Wales’ slump against the Irish last weekend.
“I wasn’t expecting too much, to be honest with you,” said the former Ospreys lock after the Cardiff loss.
“The result wasn’t a shock and Wales didn’t appear to have a game-plan.
“It took Ireland going down to 13 men for them to come back into it and hopefully it will be a kick up the backside.
“They need to start the game how they want to finish it, although I suppose you could say the same of Newcastle given some of the slow starts we have had this season.
“France away tomorrow will be a tough one, and a lot depends on whether or not the French can muster a backlash from their defeat in Italy last weekend.”
Meanwhile, the England Women’s squad containing South Shields’ Katy McLean has been declared top seeds for the inaugural IRB Sevens World Cup to be held in Moscow in June.