An unusual route to Leinster's centre
Andrew Goodman has travelled a long way, in every sense, to reach Leinster, writes JOHN O'SULLIVAN
It started with an early morning phone call where an innocent misunderstanding and intermittent static led to crossed wires in communication terms. Andrew Goodman smiles as he recounts a travelogue that originated in Nelson, a town at the top of New Zealand’s South island, with Dublin as its hopping off point.
On a superficial level the tale has a slight Hollywood accent where a 30-year-old schoolteacher was plucked from ITM Cup rugby in New Zealand and deposited in the maelstrom of the Stade Marcel Michelin, the acclimatising process involving three RaboDirect games, two of which were played in horrendous conditions. Goodman has travelled a long way in a short time; literally and figuratively.
The New Zealander explains: “I was working for the Tasman rugby union in junior rugby development (while also teaching in Nelson College, his alma mater) and I was about to head out to a school one morning. The principal from that school usually gave me a ring to make sure I am coming along.
“When the phone rang I just assumed it was him. The phone line wasn’t great and without waiting to hear the other person speak I just went, ‘yeah, yeah, I will be there soon’. A voice went, ‘no, no it’s Joe Schmidt from Leinster in Ireland’.
“I was taken aback, didn’t know what was going on. He asked me if I would be interested in coming over. I was trying not to sound too excited, as if I’d jump on the plane in a heartbeat. I was on a high for the rest of the day.”
Goodman hasn’t broached the genesis of the one-year contract offer with an option on a second 12 months but concedes he’ll get around to it some day.
“Maybe (it was down to) Feeky (Leinster scrum coach and fellow Kiwi, Greg Feek),” he mused. “He was involved with the Tasman Makos the first year they were around (2006). I only played one game for Tasman that year.
“They contacted me before the ITM Cup so it was quite a long wait. I had something to really look forward to but at the same time could focus on just playing well for Tasman. We had a good season, got to the semis, something that we didn’t do the year before.”
In preparation for the adventure he decided to take a more scholarly interest in his new footie team.
“Leinster have become a team over the last few years that everyone in the world knows because of their success in the Heineken Cup. As soon as I knew I might be coming over I started watching a lot more. There is a rugby channel back home that shows quite a lot of the Rabo games as well as the Heineken Cup matches.”