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Catt: It’s Always A Big Physical Battle With Scotland

Catt: It’s Always A Big Physical Battle With Scotland

Ireland's attack coach Mike Catt surveys the scene during the Captain's Run at the Aviva Stadium ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Following the best part of two months together as a group, attack coach Mike Catt is hoping Ireland can sign off on the autumn international window with a convincing performance against Scotland.

With the Guinness Series and Autumn Nations Cup coming swiftly on the heels of the rearranged concluding rounds of the Six Nations, it has been a crammed schedule for the Ireland squad of late.

Whereas there was an eight-day lead-in to their previous encounters with England and Georgia, a six-day turnaround has resulted in a slight change of preparation for the visit of the Scots to Dublin.

Speaking shortly after the Captain’s Run at the Aviva Stadium today, Catt said: “A lot of the process has been about recovery. We’ve done a lot of off-field stuff, making sure the players really understand their roles and what they need to bring tomorrow.

It has been a relaxed week. I think everybody is very, very clear in what Andy (Farrell) wants from the players tomorrow. We look forward to it.

“Every opportunity is a privilege to play for your country and I think the group of players that are running out tomorrow need to make sure that what we’ve done over the past seven, eight weeks as a group we put into play now.

“We’ve seen some new faces on the international scene over the past seven, eight weeks. Little bit of injuries, chopping and changing. Trying different combinations.

“Hopefully tomorrow afternoon we can really cement what we’re about as a group. Go out and play the way we want to play.”

Like their February meeting in the Six Nations, Catt is expecting an abrasive challenge from Gregor Townsend’s men. This is something they have braced themselves for, while also looking at how Ireland can enforce their own style of play on home soil.

“They’ve played exceptionally well from the past four or five weeks. They’re fresh, they didn’t have a game last week (following the cancellation of the Fiji fixture).

“They’ve been very physical in the breakdown and they’ve been talking about that as well. We need to make sure we try and get parity there.

“It is always a big physical battle. They came over here in February and it was a big physical battle. We don’t expect anything less tomorrow and hopefully the conditions will allow us to play some good, flowing rugby as well.

“Have the calmness that we can execute what we speak about, how we want the game to be played. Put ourselves in the right position to then go on and win the game.

“It’s a pretty simple formula. Make the right decisions and a lot of time we put ourselves in positions where we can capitalise.”

In the absence of crowds at matches, much has been made of the communication levels of players on the field. After the win over Georgia, stand-in captain James Ryan acknowledged that the Lelos generated greater volumes of noise across the game.

While Catt agrees being animated can serve a major purpose, calmness and composure are also key ingredients for a strong team performance.

“It’s more about your attacking game. If you aren’t in a clear-headed zone, you’re not going to make the right decisions and rugby union is all about decision making,” explained the former England international.

“Whether it’s defence, kicking, whatever it is. You’ve got to be in a good head space to do that. If you’re getting frustrated with other people around you, you need to make sure you bail yourself out of that.

“It’s very, very easy with people making mistakes to scream and shout about it. It’s being controlled, being composed and moving onto the next thing.”

Having fallen below the standards they set for themselves last week, Catt sees tomorrow as an ideal chance for the players to translate their hard work from the training ground to a competitive match setting.

The players will quickly reintegrate back into their provinces after this weekend and Catt wants to see them leaving the national camp with a spring in their step. He added:

We’ve been together for seven, eight weeks. We need to make sure that we show real intent in everything that we’ve learnt. Very disappointed about last weekend obviously, across the board.

“The players as well (were disappointed), so this is an opportunity they’ve got to go into a Christmas break on the back of something pretty special.”