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VIDEO – England have scraped surface of attacking potential says Catt

14 September 2012

  • Mike Catt discusses new role as England attacking skills coach
  • “We’re only at 15 or 20 per cent of where we want to go” says world cup winner

Mike Catt believes England are nowhere near the peak of their attacking potential as the world cup winner embarks on new chapter in a startling rugby career.

The 40-year-old toured South Africa with England this summer and impressed to the extent that Head Coach Stuart Lancaster added him to his permanent staff as attacking skills coach last week.

Catt, who won everything in the game with England, Bath and London Irish, is tasked with developing the attacking outlook of the Senior and Saxons squads and his initial assessment is encouraging as England build towards Rugby World Cup 2015.

Speaking to RFUtv after his first official meeting with Lancaster and fellow coaches Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell, the former British and Irish Lion said: “I think we’re only at 15 or 20 per cent of where we want to go with the quality of players we’ve got.

“The majority of this squad of players, probably 70 per cent of them, have got two world cups in them. There’s a lot for them to learn, it’s going to take them time to pick it up but the more knowledge and expertise we can give them, hopefully they’ll be able to transmit that weekend-by-weekend for their clubs and then bring it to the international stage.

“We didn’t have a good summer tour when it comes to results so we need to rectify that. We’re a hard team to beat at the moment, we’re resilient, and now we need to learn how to win on a regular basis.”

A good coach makes players better – Catt

New England Attacking Skills Coach Mike Catt

Photo: Getty Images

Catt’s remit is to cultivate the attacking talent of current and future England internationals, which fits neatly with his perspective as a coach – to simply “make players better”.

Catt was capped in every backline position except scrum half and his appointment is a smart move by Lancaster, given he will look at the detail of individual players’ games and assess how they can improve at an earlier stage in their careers.

“To be a good coach you really have to make players better and I want to go into the detail of each individual, into how they are performing and the game management side of it,” Catt added. “We’ve got a lot of young guys in that EPS squad but it’s not just working with the Seniors and the Saxons but going down to the Under 20 level and seeing the next batch coming through.

“The aim is to give them my knowledge and expertise at a lot younger level so they’ve got two or three years to develop before they come through. It’s very much a development point of view and making them better, making them aware of things on rugby pitch that they might not get at club level.”

Young, English, dynamic coaches – Lancaster

Lancaster says he only considered adding to his coaching set-up if the individual would complement and improve the qualities he already had at his disposal, and, having observed Catt at close quarters in South Africa, believes he can add a level of detail which was previously absent.

Highlighting his ability to engage with the players from a skills perspective, he said: “Mike did a great job in South Africa and took his opportunity with both hands.

“The players responded well to him and he did a lot of skill work with them. He can add a layer of detail that was perhaps missing. He’s very excited about doing it and will engage with some of the players who are just on the cusp of the England side, whether they are in the Saxons or coming out of the 20s, who we believe in the next year or two will come through and be part of the team.

“We’re an integrated coaching team – we’re similar in our philosophy and what we believe in. We’ll all have an opinion on each area and ultimately I’ll have to make the final decision if we do disagree. But I don’t imagine that being a problem and the dynamics of having young, English coaches who have played at the highest level can only be good for the players.”