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England won't give up on Smith

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Sportal.co.nz     04 May 2012     Getty Images

Former England centre Catt accepted a short-term contract to be involved in the coaching team for England's midyear tour of South Africa after Smith decided to stay in New Zealand due to family reasons.

While Catt refuses to look too far into the future and lay claim to a more permanent position with the national set-up following Smith's decision, he admits the World Cup-winning assistant coach could still act in an advisory role.

"I still don't know why Stuart can't tap into Wayne's knowledge anyway," Catt said.

"Graham Henry is still doing stuff around the world and I think Stuart has a good enough relationship with Wayne to be able to do that.

"I think everyone could learn massively from Wayne, but obviously for family reasons he's decided not to get involved but it gives other people opportunities to stake their claim.

"This is my opportunity. My focus is on the now.

"I had quite a few of them for England as a player and now this is my opportunity as a coach to make sure I can set my stall out and work well with Graham (Rowntree) and Stuart and the players."

Catt, who won 75 caps for England, is set to leave his coaching role at Aviva Premiership side London Irish to join the Rugby Football Union after their last game of the season on Saturday and expects to help improve England's back-line.

"I've got a two-month window that I need to make sure I get things right, make sure I complement Stuart and Graham in everything they do and that I get the players on board too," Catt said.

"Graham has done an amazing job with the forwards, especially with that scrum performance against Ireland, so if we can get that set-piece right, the line-out and the scrum and get a good platform to work from, it's now my job to get some of those backs firing and firing and doing good stuff.

"Andy (Farrell), Graham and Stuart have produced guys that you probably don't see on a week-in, week-out basis in the Aviva Premiership. They are defending unbelievably well and their work-rate is incredible. It's just ultimate belief.

"Owen Farrell and Toby Flood are pushing each other (at first five-eighth). You've got the nine spot with Lee Dickson and Ben Youngs - key positions with a lot of competition there and guys will improve because of that."

And Catt is hoping to slot straight in to the England side and fit in with the new culture and belief.

"It's down to man-management and I will purely focus on the next two months so I won't worry about the future too much," he said.

"Stuart has given me this opportunity I just want to take it with both hands.

"It's not rocket science how Stuart wants us to play the game, he's very open minded. It's the environment that we're on and we're hoping to play at that level.

"International rugby is a very tough environment and I need to make sure I'm doing the right thing so I will sit down and have a chat with him on Tuesday and see exactly what direction we need to go in."

The step up to international level comes after Catt spent three years on the coaching staff at London Irish where he ended his playing career in 2010.

The 40-year-old remembers his time at the club fondly but admits now feels like the right time to move on.

"I spent three or four years coaching there and I would like to experience other opportunities and other environments," he said.

"The nice thing is that Stuart has given me this opportunity and we'll see how it goes."