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Alex Goode confident Toulon clash will ‘bring the best’ out of Saracens in European Challenge Cup

By Will Macpherson

Alex Goode says a supercharged Saracens side are relishing the opportunity to take on a “very dangerous” Toulon in Saturday’s European Challenge Cup semi-final in the south of France.

Mako Vunipola returns from injury to start at loose-head in a side that is close to Saracens’ best. Max Malins is back on the right wing for Sean Maitland, while Nick Isiekwe comes in for Tim Swinson at second row.

Senior statesman Goode starts at full-back and, after their year in the Championship, is relishing Saracens’ first European knockout action since 2020 — even if he admits they would rather be in the Champions Cup.

“Knockout rugby brings the best out of us,” he said. “There’s been an intensity and buzz to training.

“It’s not quite where we want to be, we want to be in Champions Cup. But we love big hostile environments, stadiums like Toulon’s. They are on a roll and we want to win every competition we are in.

“It’s a wonderful place to play. It’s tough and we love being there. Those moments where you have to dig in, show what the team is about — they remind you how special this is. When you win those games, they’re the best victories. Nothing is easy, you have to work for it. That’s what excites us.”

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