Leicester fly-half Andy Goode is ready to restate his case for an England call-up when he goes head-to-head with James Hook in Saturday's Anglo-Welsh Cup final.
Goode’s last cap was in November 2006, since when he has been overtaken in the England pecking order by the likes of Danny Cipriani, Toby Flood and Shane Geraghty.
But Leicester’s director of rugby Marcelo Loffreda has tipped Goode for a place on England’s summer tour to New Zealand after he outshone Cipriani in the Tigers’ semi-final victory over Wasps.
On Saturday, Goode faces Wales’ own fly-half prodigy and he is ready for the challenge as Leicester attempt a successful defence of their trophy against the Ospreys.
“James Hook is a fantastic player who has developed so well over the last couple of years,” Goode said.
“He was an integral part of the Welsh Grand-Slam winning side and he and Danny Cipriani are probably the top two fly-halves in Europe at the minute.
“It’s good to test yourself against those guys and this is a massive occasion at Twickenham, something that gets the hairs on the back of your neck rising.
“We need to keep Hook quiet as one of their main attacking threats alongside Justin Marshall at half-back. They’re an experienced attacking side so it will be a good test.
“We won the trophy last year and it is a major priority for us. It was the first trophy we won last year and it was a target to defend it.”
Leicester beat the Ospreys 45-31 in a thrilling final last season having stormed into a 28-9 half-time lead, and went on to complete their first ever league and cup double.
Now under Loffreda’s charge things have not run quite so smoothly this season but the Tigers are still in the hunt for the Premiership title.
Goode added: “It is important to build on success by winning a trophy this season.”
While Leicester are still chasing a potential double, the Ospreys have 80 minutes to save their season.
Just a week ago the campaign promised so much but last Sunday the rug was pulled from under them with a surprise defeat to Saracens in the quarter-finals of the European Cup.
Coach Lyn Jones has reacted by changing half his pack after Saracens dominated the forward exchanges, with Wales internationals Duncan Jones, Huw Bennett, Ian Gough and Jonathan Thomas all dropping to the bench.
The Ospreys are without Wales centre Gavin Henson, who suffered minor ankle ligament damage at Vicarage Road, but the 22-man squad still includes 12 players who helped Wales win the Grand Slam.
The Tigers, fresh from a weekend off, are without Seru Rabeni who lost his appeal against a 14-week ban for eye-gouging last night.
Aaron Mauger comes into the team at inside centre and Ollie Smith is preferred on the wing to Tom Varndell, while there are starts for prop Boris Stankovich and number eight Jordan Crane.