London Irish boss Smith backs Catt for England roleBy Alan Manicom
April 25, 2012
London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith believes the club's assistant coach Mike Catt would do an excellent job for England.
Catt is reportedly being considered as the national team's backs coach for their tour of South Africa in June.
And Smith, who was England's attack coach at the last World Cup, believes that Catt and Exiles' head coach Toby Booth are international class.
Speaking after London Irish's 25-16 win over Worcester Warriors last Saturday, Smith said: "Both have massive futures with England.
"I don't know whether that will be before the next World Cup or for the one after.
"Toby's credentials as a head coach or forward coach and Mike Catt's credentials as an attack coach mean that at some point they will be with the RFU."
Catt, a World Cup winner with England in 2003, has been sounded out about taking on a coaching role with England before boss Stuart Lancaster names his 40-man squad for the country's three-Test tour in a fortnight’s time.
Wayne Smith, the Waikato Chiefs assistant coach, remains Lancaster's preferred long-term option.
But the need for a short-term arrangement is pressing following Andy Farrell's decision to turn down the position on a permanent basis to remain with Saracens.
Catt has a year left on his contract at Irish but there has been speculation about his future since Smith returned to the club last month stating cuts in the backroom staff would be necessary to pay for squad strengthening.
Booth and Catt have both been linked with possible moves to Bath, but Smith is hoping to have both men by his side.
He said: "I am delighted that both Boothy and Catty are contracted for next season.
"The club is in a strong position. It is great that our coaches are sought after.
"I know there are a few rumours that clubs are chasing them around.
"That just shows that they are quality coaches."
Booth reiterated that he intends honouring the final year of his contract.
He said: "I am London Irish head coach and that is not changing.
"I am in contract and I have built it before and I will build it again."
"With clubs in the financial position and resource position that we are in you often have to let things unwind before you can start again.
"That has certainly been the case here."
Ireland and Lions scrum-half Tomas O'Leary is arriving from Munster next season and another high-profile recruit was confirmed this week when it was announced England fly-half Shane Geraghty would be rejoining the club.
Booth insists that passing over recruitment responsibilities to Smith has allowed him to focus on coaching the squad.
He said: "Having greater resources on the off-field has certainly helped my focus on the on-field.
"We drove exceptionally well against Worcester and we scrummed well.
"Being able to have more of an influence in those areas has certainly been of benefit."
Exiles ended a club-record worst ever seven-match losing run in the Premiership with victory at Sixways.
And Booth accepts that the club has needed to make changes.
A host of big-name players are set to leave this summer.
Delon Armitage and Nick Kennedy are joining Toulon.
Also on the move are Shontayne Hape (Montpellier), Dan Bowden (Leicester) and Paul Hodgson (Worcester), while Bob Casey is set to retire from the game.
Booth said: "The frustration is about missed opportunities.
"But we have to be very mindful of what change still needs to happen for us to kick on again.
"There is frustration because you never know how long that piece of string is going to take to unwind.
"We are pretty much nearly there and the signs are encouraging considering the performance (against Worcester) and what Brian is intending to bring in.
"That will hopefully propel us to the heights we want to be at."