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Mike Catt joins England rugby coaching staff

Mike Catt joins England rugby coaching staff

Mike Catt will join the coaching staff for England's rugby union tour of South Africa after New Zealander Wayne Smith turned down the role of backs coach.
Smith, who helped the All Blacks win last year's Rugby World Cup on home soil, had said he was keen to work with England but cited family reasons in refusing a post that became available when Andy Farrell opted to stick with club side Saracens.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster instead turned to Catt, who won the 2003 Rugby World Cup with England and helped his adopted country reach the final again four years later, and whose club side London Irish agreed to release him from his contract.
The South African-born Catt will link up with England after the Exiles' final league match of the season on Saturday, on an initial contract that runs until June 30.
"Mike has played at the top level and is highly respected," Lancaster said. "He has done a great job whilst coaching at London Irish and we are looking forward to working with him on this South Africa tour.
"He is experienced in playing in South Africa and this will be invaluable as we prepare for this challenging and exciting tour."
England will play three tests in South Africa, including one in Catt's hometown of Port Elizabeth.
Catt will work with Lancaster and assistant coach Graham Rowntree, while second-string Saxons coaches Jon Callard and Simon Hardy will also be on the trip, primarily concentrating on midweek matches away from the major test venues.
"Jon and Simon know the players well from their roles with the Saxons," said Lancaster, who led England to second place in the Six Nations. "They will provide excellent specialist support in their individual areas, with Jon supporting our kickers and Simon our hookers throughout the whole squad."
Farrell attracted plaudits from Lancaster for his work during the Six Nations but decided to keep building his coaching experience at club level.
Lancaster met with Smith, who had expressed interest in becoming head coach prior to Lancaster's appointment and was also open to working under Nick Mallett, but his offer was turned down. Smith will stick with Super rugby outfit Waikato Chiefs.
"Wayne rang me this morning and I fully respect his decision which, as he says, was a difficult one," Lancaster said. "He is clearly a coach of quality, honesty and integrity. I enjoyed meeting him and wish him all the best for the future in his coaching role with the Chiefs."
Smith cited personal reasons for his apparent change of mind about relocating.
"I was very impressed with Stuart when I met him. He is an outstanding individual and will be a great plus for England rugby and anyone who works in his team will be very fortunate," Smith said. "It was an incredibly difficult decision but ultimately I have decided to stay in New Zealand, mainly for personal reasons. I took the job with the Chiefs so I could move nearer to elderly parents. I have traveled the globe with rugby for the last 15 years and I want to fulfill my commitment to be closer to them.
"I do also feel some loyalty to the Chiefs and the job that I have with them, and leaving after eight months when I have a year left on my contract did not feel right."
The 40-year-old Catt could become a permanent member of the coaching setup if things go well for England in its first ever three-test series against South Africa. First up, though, is a non-test warmup against the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 29.
"I was very impressed with England during the Six Nations, not just the way they played but the culture that is developing," Catt said. "There are some talented young players coming through and the chance to work with them for the Barbarians game and the tour is really exciting."


Updated : 2021-02-28 00:19 GMT+08:00