Game of two halves: Catt falters in Andrew's shadow

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The Independent Online
If there was one thing that never got to Rob Andrew, not in his later England years anyway, it was pressure. But then pressure was never something he would deliberately have created himself.

So if you are looking for how Andrew would have done things differently against South Africa from the hapless Mike Catt on Saturday, you could begin before the match.

The very notion of running down the opposition, as Catt crassly did when he called Francois Pienaar "average", would have been quite alien.

Andrew would therefore have avoided the traumatic effect of Catt's faux pas. During the days leading up to the match, Catt's jibe was not only used as motivation by the Springboks but was also mercilessly picked on by his own team-mates - so much so that by the moment of reckoning at Twickenham Catt's embarrassment was complete, his discomfort total.

It showed in his play. Once the game was on, Andrew would have kicked just as Catt did; the difference would have been that he would have gone for the corners and been accurate. Thus would England have played the game, as Jack Rowell put it, in the final third of the field. On the other hand, Andrew would hardly have got his line moving any more fluently than Catt did, even if he would probably have chosen his moment rather better.

So what it comes down to is judgement rather than style or ability. Indeed at 24 Catt, one can safely say, potentially has more to offer than Andrew ever did but the step between promise and fulfilment is long and awkward.

Ask Andrew. The criticism he has unworthily received - from Catt, among others - since retiring from international rugby is nothing compared what went on during his England apprenticeship. That lasted at least four years; Catt has been England's outside-half twice.

Steve Bale

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