Catt aiming to get England backs firing and make the most of tour opportunity

England Rugby Union's new interim assistant coach, Mike Catt
England Rugby Union's new interim assistant coach, Mike Catt
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Mike Catt is relishing the chance to work with the new-look England side but believes head coach Stuart Lancaster could still use Wayne Smith’s expertise even though the New Zealander initially turned down the role.

Former England centre Catt accepted a short-term contract to be involved in the coaching team for England’s summer tour of South Africa after Smith decided to stay in New Zealand due to family reasons.

While Catt refuses to look too far into the future and lay claim to a more permanent position with the national set-up following Smith’s decision, he says the World Cup-winning assistant coach could still act in an advisory role.

Catt, who was in Leeds yesterday for a coaching master-class, said: “I still don’t know why Stuart can’t tap into Wayne’s knowledge anyway. Graham Henry is still doing stuff around the world and I think Stuart has a good enough relationship with Wayne to be able to do that.

“I think everyone could learn massively from Wayne, but obviously for family reasons he’s decided not to get involved but it gives other people opportunities to stake their claim.

“This is my opportunity. My focus is on the now. I had quite a few of them for England as a player and now this is my opportunity as a coach to make sure I can set my stall out and work well with Graham (Rowntree) and Stuart and the players.”

Catt, who won 75 caps for England, is set to leave his coaching role at Premiership side London Irish to join the Rugby Football Union after their last game of the season on Saturday and expects to be able to help improve England’s back-line.

“I’ve got a two-month window that I need to make sure I get things right, make sure I complement Stuart and Graham in everything they do and that I get the players on board too.

“Graham has done an amazing job with the forwards; it’s now my job to get some of those backs firing and doing good stuff.”

Catt adds: “It’s down to man-management and I will purely focus on the next two months so I won’t worry about the future too much.

“Stuart has given me this opportunity I just want to take it with both hands.”