Big guns are back as Catt chases perfection
BATH stalwart Nathan Catt is sick of mid-table mediocrity and says the time for excuses is over in the quest for a top trophy.
Catt’s side began the weekend a massive 21 points behind co-leaders Exeter and Saracens – totally unacceptable according to the frustrated loosehead who lines up against Sale after recently extending his contract at the Rec.
Bath blew the chance of a much-needed win with a shocking display at Newcastle last week and Catt told The Rugby Paper: “We’re sick of finishing sixth or seventh, we’ve been in mid-table for too long now.
“As a team we’ve got a good few gears to get through and we need to push on and close that gap with Exeter and Saracens.
“Those teams probably are on another level to everyone else. They’re setting standards and it’s down to the next ten teams to chase them. Behind them it’s quite tight but we’ve been far too up and down and need to do better.
He added: “There’s a lot of basics we’ve not been doing correctly so as a squad we’ve got to be more vigilant about anything that’s not accurate and demand higher standards of each other.
“We’ve showed what we were capable of at times, but 60 minutes isn’t enough against quality teams and it’s important for us to find the small margins that can make all the difference – those little fixes that become big ones.
“We’ve got to be harder on ourselves, hammer anything that isn’t perfect – then hopefully we’ll find that consistency, starting today.”
Bath waste no time recalling their big guns with England heroes Sam Underhill, Joe Cokanasiga and Charlie Ewels all starting, while Francois Louw returns from South Africa duty and Kahn Fotuali’i is in at No.9 after injury.
Former England 7s star Ruaridh McConnochie replaces Tom Homer at full-back and centre Max Wright is in for Jamie Roberts, while Jack Walker starts at hooker in a match Bath must win to boost waning top four chances.
Despite his frustration, Catt, 30, is delighted to have signed a new two-year deal
He explained: “It wasn’t a hard decision. I’ve been here since I was 16, my family’s settled and I feel we’ve got unfinished business having not won anything in ten years. I want to achieve more and I’m committed to this club.”
Underhill’s return should lift Bath’s chances as the England man prepares for a tasty back row showdown with Jono Ross and Ben Curry.
After his Autumn Test heroics, Underhill said: “The club’s your bread and butter, I’m delighted to be back and hopefully I can show what I can do.”
Sale welcome back England winger Chris Ashton for his first Premiership start for the club, while Byron McGuigan returns on the wing for Arron Reed and Sam James replace brother Luke at centre. Their pack remains unchanged.
Ashton said: “We want to be top six, top four even, and we have the players to do it.”
Frustrated: Bath front row Nathan Catt