Mike Catt will make the most of final flingBy Steve Williams
May 15, 2009
London Irish veteran Mike Catt is determined to make the most of tomorrow’s Guinness Premiership final against Leicester Tigers at Twickenham.
The England centre and London Irish attack coach, now aged 37, has achieved virtually everything in the game, including helping England to World Cup glory in 2003.
And Catt will play a full role tomorrow, leading, cajoling and inspiring the rest of the side. He said: “I’ve been in a few finals, especially as a youngster, and didn’t really enjoy or savour the moment at all.
“One of the things I said in the changing room before the Quins game was that it’s not often you get to these situations so you’ve got to enjoy the moment.
“Hopefully, a lot of the younger guys can really learn from this and not get too wound up about it.
“It’s the same tomorrow. It’s at Twickenham, it’s a massive task for us to go and beat Leicester, but we did it against Quins last week.
“If I can drag a few people with me we can thoroughly enjoy this occasion.”
It’s going to be real David and Goliath stuff at Twickenham.
Irish, working from a squad of 33, are up against a Tigers side who can pick from around 41 and who have been there, done that and already got the t-shirt.
It will be the sixth time they will have featured in the Premiership’s showcase and, no doubt, they firmly expect to be carting the trophy back up the M1 on Saturday.
But when it comes to mind over matter, there’s no-one better than Irish head coach Toby Booth and Catt.
Working off the foundations laid by former head coach Brian Smith, the pair have brought an even fresher approach to the grind of daily training routines.
Allied to some shrewd signings, Booth has turned Irish into the most exciting and imaginative outfit in the Premiership.
Not only have they scored the most tries over the past eight months, but they also boast the meanest defence, ensuring enough losing bonus points to ensure they finished third in the table.
Booth said: “This group has come a long way and we’ve still got improvements to make going forward.
“But we are the new kids on the block and we’ve got to see if we can push through.
“We have a massive self-belief here, but, make no bones about it, you don’t get to five finals by accident and Leicester are the team to beat.
“They’ve got massive resources on and off the pitch. We’ve got what we’ve got, but it’s stood us in good stead this far and we’ll have to see how we go.”
Catt can still come up with the goods, as he demonstrated last week in scoring the final try as Irish saw off Harlequins 17-0.
Many think this will be his final season, but there was no hint of that from Catt in training this week and Booth will let his right-hand man make up his own mind.
He said: “There’ll be no judgement over when he decides to hang up his boots.
“He has been a credit to himself, his family and to Irish and he’ll make his decision as and when he sees fit.”
Irish have injury concerns over England lock Nick Kennedy, who is suffering from a medial ligament strain, but skipper Bob Casey and centre Seilala Mapusua, who both took knocks last weekend, should be available.
London Irish: Hewat; Thompstone, D Armitage, Mapusua, Tagicakibua; Catt, Hodgson; Dermody, Coetzee, Skuse; Casey (c), Hudson; Danaher, S Armitage, Hala’Ufia. Reps: Corbisiero, Buckland, Johnson, Thorpe, Roche, Richards, Homer.