Humph Catt fright
Published 09/12/2006 | 00:00
Former England and Lions star Mike Catt is relishing his Heineken Cup showdown with his old international rival David Humphreys at the Madejski Stadium today.
Ulster, backed by an estimated 6,000-strong travelling support, will attempt to win their first European Cup game on English soil in nine attempts when the take on London Irish in a game Mark McCall's side must win to keep their Heineken Cup hopes alive.
Irish are already effectively out of the running having lost their opening two rounds, at home to Llanelli and away to Toulouse.
But with Catt pulling the strings at inside centre, the visitors can expect a tough ride.
In their last Guinness Premiership match they romped to a 40-5 victory over Northampton at the Madejski and another win today would ease the pressure on coach Brian Smith.
Catt however knows that in-form Ulster are travelling full of confidence and self-belief. And he singled-out his old foe Humphreys as the dangerman, despite eight of McCall's side winning Ireland caps in impressive style this autumn.
"With half a dozen of their players now back from Ireland's autumn international series Ulster are going to be some side to beat," warned Catt. "They are a 'streetwise' team and know just what to do at big game time.
"David Humphreys and I have faced each other numerous times in international competition so I know that when he plays at fly half the opposition can never relax.
"David knows his rugby inside out and runs the game for Ulster. He sees things others can't on a rugby pitch and steadies the ship when needed. I'm looking forward to a great game and a great occasion."
Ulster manager McCall said: "They have some very dangerous outside backs and we are aware of that and have prepared for that. But we have got some pretty dangerous players ourselves and it is important we start the game really solidly and efficiently.
"This is a knock-out game for us and if we can win it, we will have two massive games at Ravenhill against Irish again and Llanelli."