Big guns are back as Catt chases per­fec­tion

The Rugby Paper - - Premiership - By NEALE HAR­VEY

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

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