England Rugby
Mike Catt tipped for England tour role
ESPNscrum Staff
April 26, 2012
London Irish attack coach Mike Catt offers some instruction, Bath v London Irish, Aviva Premiership, The Rec, September 11, 2010
Former England international Mike Catt could soon be part of the national side's coaching team © Getty Images

London Irish attack coach Mike Catt is reportedly in line to join the England management team on a temporary basis for the forthcoming tour of South Africa.

England coach Stuart Lancaster had hoped to retain the services of Saracens first team coach Andy Farrell for the three-Test, five-match tour in June after he helped steer the side to a second place finish in this year's Six Nations while on secondment from his Premiership employers. However, Farrell's decision to shun the offer forced Lancaster to look elsewhere with former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith and Catt among the leading contenders to fill the void.

Smith, who helped orchestrate the All Blacks' recent Rugby World Cup triumph, is understood to be weighing up the offer of a role following a meeting with Lancaster last weekend but he would be unavailable until after the summer tour to South Africa due to his current contract with Super Rugby side the Chiefs.

The RFU was accused of dragging its heels over negotiations for Farrell, who had forged such a successful team with Lancaster and Graham Rowntree during the Six Nations.

"I had a great relationship with Andy from the Saxons, I enjoyed working with him and felt he was the right man to help us through that Six Nations period," Lancaster told RFU.com. "And he did exactly that, he had a massive impact on the players and on the environment and culture. He's obviously stepped from playing to coaching seamlessly and then transferred that club coaching to international coaching.

"He was brilliant for me and we had a fantastic journey through the Six Nations together. He had decisions to make after the tournament and I fully respect those decisions. We still have a great relationship and will talk all the time."

London Irish are not thought to have received an official approach from the RFU for Catt, although that may not be necessary. Catt has one year remaining on his London Irish contract but he is reportedly leaving the club this summer as part of a cull of back-room staff.

England are taking at least 40 players to South Africa and Lancaster is looking at adding some support coaches to his core management team. "There will be three main coaches but to do this tour with just three coaches would be a stretch so we'll need some support in there too," Lancaster said. "Short term we need to find a replacement for Andy for the tour and some support coaches who can come in and help out with the team that plays in midweek.

"And also on the sheer logistics of it - we're going to select 40-plus players and we want to make sure we give them the feedback they deserve. Long term as well I want to make sure we've got the best coaching team to take us not only through the QBE Internationals this autumn and next year's Six Nations but right the way through Rugby World Cup 2015."

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