MATT Goode says he is excited by the squad at his disposal as Oxfordshire target another dream run to Twickenham.

The side host Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire & Derbyshire tomorrow (3) in their Bill Beaumont County Championship Division 3 opener.

Oxon, who won at English rugby’s headquarters in 2017, have a number of new faces this year, both in the playing squad and on the sidelines.

Goode, who is unable to attend the first two games due to personal commitments, has taken over as head coach from Craig Burrows.

While this year’s team includes a healthy number of players who have National League experience under their belts.

Seven of the starting XV were part of the Henley Hawks squad which challenged for promotion from the fourth tier this season.

And Goode is looking forward to seeing what his side can achieve.

He said: “We’ve got a hugely talented squad and I’m really excited to see how they perform and gel.

“The boys have bought into it which is amazing and hopefully they can show their talent and bring some other boys through.”

Goode added: “We want to have fun – that’s the key thing.

“We’d all love to get to Twickenham, it would be a great team effort for Oxfordshire to reach the final again and we’re focused on that.”

Backs coach Matt Mountford will oversee the side in their Pool 1 opener at Horspath Sports Ground.

Henley flanker Tom Hall has been named as captain for the championship, but his unavailability this weekend means loosehead prop Ian Stock will skipper the team tomorrow.

Elliot Deacon and George Primett complete an all-Hawks front row, while clubmates Adam Neal, David Hyde, Leo Webb and Finn Pietersen also start.

The side have been training for two weeks and Goode has been enthused by what he has seen.

He said: “Our preparation has been really good.

“Like all training sessions, the first one was about setting out goals and the way we want to play.

“We had a good training session on Wednesday and they are looking forward to Saturday.”

Players from Chinnor, Oxford Harlequins, Wallingford, Bicester and National League 2 South champions Rams make up the rest of the 20-man squad.

Although Henley players account for more than 46 per cent of the starting XV, Goode has been impressed by the desire from all those involved to represent their county.

He said: “I did previously say I would like to have more people from different clubs, but the Henley boys put their hands up and said they were interested.

“Hally has been instrumental in that and got the boys together.

“But the likes of Hydey, Adam Neal and George Primett have played for the last few years and have that pride to play for the badge, so it’s good to see that.


Oxon: Mills (Banbury), Davies (Chinnor), Leese, Stoop, Brady (all Banbury), Pietersen, Webb, Stock, Deacon, Primett, Neal (all Henley), Myatt (Ox Quins), Jeffreys (Wallingford), Norman (Chinnor), Hyde (Henley). Reps: Marris (Rams), Boulton (Banbury), Winnington-Ingram (Bicester), White (Ox Quins), Mountford (Chinnor).