Alex Goode has described Mako Vunipola as “one of the best players in the world” following his destructive display that helped Saracens dethrone Exeter as English champions.
The England prop powered Saracens towards their third Aviva Premiership title in four seasons, claiming man-of-the-match honours through a set-piece masterclass and the mayhem caused by his tackle-breaking running.
“Sometimes I give him stick,” said full-back Goode. “If I play well I say he doesn’t deserve man of the match. I did! But he was outstanding.
“He really is one of the best players in the world, no doubt about it. The amount of tackles, involvement he has, and for them all to be so positive – carries, hits, decision-making – is brilliant.
“We’ve always known what a talent and what a player he is. He is a massive leader for us in terms of his actions and his voice. He’s an absolute joy to play with – a brilliant, brilliant player.
“He has got an incredible rugby mind. Both him and his brother Billy are very astute with their understanding of the game, which perhaps they don’t get credit for.”
While the brothers will head to South Africa with England next weekend – Mako’s 50th cap beckons during the Test series – Goode intends spending time in Malawi helping out with his mother Sarah’s school-building charity.
The last of Goode’s 21 England caps came against Fiji in November 2016, and his display in Saracens’ 27-10 victory, which was watched by England head coach Eddie Jones, underlined his quality.
“It was his best ever finals performance,” Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said. “I thought he was extraordinarily good.
“His end to the season has been exceptional. He took his game to a different level (in the final). He was simply brilliant in the air and a very important creative force for us.”
Goode added: “I can’t comment on what Eddie sees, what he is looking at.
“As far as I am concerned, I am just out there to do a good job for Saracens and I am just happy with my personal performance and the team performance.
“It is just about the club for me. It is the club I have been at my whole life, and it is just a privilege to be part of this club and group of people.
“I don’t know what days the Tests are. Some I will be around for, and some I won’t be. I think one I am in Malawi, so I won’t be around for that.
“I will watch them if I am around, of course. I am a fan and it’s still my mates out there and I want them to do well and I want England to win.
“My mum has got a charity and she has built 11 schools out in Malawi. She has been saying for years I should go out there, and I have finally got time and decided to go out there for 12 days and give back a bit.
“I will be teaching in the schools, probably a bit of football. My mum has perhaps lied to some of the people and said I am a professional football player!
“There will be a bit of teaching and maybe a bit of helping build one of the schools. It will be amazing. I have always wanted to do it, and finally to get out there and do it will be great.”