Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Catt issues Italy warning

Mike Catt admits England are not the finished article yet

Mike Catt admitted it is "incredible" that England are even being talked of in a Grand Slam context just 13 months after head coach Stuart Lancaster began his rebuilding project.

England will tighten their grip on the RBS 6 Nations title and tee up a shot at a first Grand Slam in a decade if they can extend their unbeaten record against Italy on Sunday. England's average victory over the Azzurri at Twickenham is 48-11 and two years ago they ran in eight tries, with Chris Ashton scoring four in a thumping 59-13 triumph.

Catt, the attacking skills coach, would rejoice if England could repeat that performance but he warned against expecting another Twickenham rout. "When you look at where this team has come from, it is incredible," Catt said.

"A year ago you wouldn't have thought we would be in this position. This team is by far the finished article. You are expecting six or seven tries tomorrow, we have only been together for a year.

"That expectation is there and it is brilliant. We are creating it with our performances but international rugby doesn't always go that way.

"You have got to be mindful of the fact that this Italian side is not the Italian side of 10 years ago.

"You want the perfect performance every time. You want to entertain a Twickenham crowd that has been brilliant for us.

"We want to make sure we are clinical, that we have the composure to do what we want to do and what people expect us to do.

"The players just want to perform.

"But this Italian team are a hell of a side at the moment. If we have to kick every penalty to win games we will take that, because that is what the opposition allows you to do."

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