Catt returns at ideal time for depleted Bath

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The Independent Online

Bath's Mike Catt is poised to make only his second appearance since helping England to World Cup glory after being named at fly-half for today's Premiership match at home against Leeds.

Catt limped off against Leicester in November and has been unable to play since with his comeback being scuppered on several occasions, most recently thanks to a calf injury.

But his return has come at the ideal time for the Premiership leaders who have been savaged by international call-ups and a mass of injury problems, denying them the use of 13 first-team players.

"Mike will start at No 10. He has trained very well this week and his return comes as a big boost at a time when we are missing several players through international duty and injury," the Bath head coach, John Connolly, said.

"It has been a far from ideal week. We've been forced to make several changes because of the players we have out. It has also been difficult with David Flatman, Matt Stevens and Martyn Wood all having trained with England this week."

One piece of good news for Connolly this week, however, has been that the in-form back rower Andy Beattie has agreed a new two-year contract at Bath and will line-up on the blindside against the Tykes.

It should prove an unsuccessful trip to the West Country for Leeds, who sit fourth from bottom in the Premiership table, and the director of rugby, Phil Davies, is keen to acknowledge Bath's strength on home soil.

"They have re-established the fortress quality of the Recreation Ground and they are still involved in every competition they have played in this season. John Connolly and his team have done an excellent job at the club," Davies said.

Martin Johnson will break Leicester's captaincy record when he leads the Tigers out against London Irish today for the 164th time, eclipsing the record set by Percy Lawrie.

But Johnson's achievement could be overshadowed by the return of the Ireland international Geordan Murphy, who wins a place on the bench after recovering from the broken leg he suffered against Scotland last September. Leicester, meanwhile, have announced the departure of skills and defence coach Damian McGrath from the club. The former rugby league coach had been with the Tigers since July 2002, and recently assisted the coaching of the England Sevens team as part of the IRB Sevens series.

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