Mike Catt still sees role for Wayne Smith in England set-up

 

Mike Catt believes England head coach Stuart Lancaster could still tap into the expertise of Wayne Smith - despite the New Zealander turning down the chance to be involved in the national set-up.

Yesterday, Catt was announced on Lancaster's coaching squad for England's summer tour of South Africa in June on a short-term contact after Smith turned the role down due to family reasons.

Catt, who will leave his coaching job at London Irish at the weekend to take up the role with the Rugby Football Union, played down the suggestion the position could lead to a more permanent role, but admitted Smith could still feature in an advisory role of his own.

"Stuart has given me this opportunity I just want to take it with both hands," Catt 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."

And Catt says he is more than ready to take his chance and lay down a marker himself.

"My focus is on the now," he said.

"This is my opportunity.

"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.

"It's not rocket science how Stuart wants us to play the game, he's very open minded. It's the environment that we're on and we're hoping to play at that level."

Although Catt, who earned 75 caps for England during his playing career, admitted his exact role has not been specified, he believes his main focus will be to introduce more creativity into the side's back-line.

He said: "Graham Rowntree has done an amazing job with the forwards, especially with that scrum performance against Ireland, so if we can get that set-piece right, the line-out and the scrum and get a good platform to work from, it's now my job to get some of those backs firing and firing and doing good stuff.

"Andy (Farrell), Graham and Stuart have produced guys that you probably don't see on a week-in, week-out basis in the Aviva Premiership. They are defending unbelievably well and their work rate is incredible. It's just ultimate belief.

"Owen Farrell and Toby Flood are pushing each other (at fly-half). You've got the nine spot with Lee Dickson and Ben Youngs - key positions with a lot of competition there and guys will improve because of that."

However, despite Lancaster suggesting the tour to South Africa is the chance for Catt to lay his claim for a more permanent role, the former centre is only focusing on the task in hand.

"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," Catt said.

"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."

PA

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