Catt challenges Tuilagi to perform
February 5, 2013
Manu Tuilagi back in training for England © Getty Images
Tuilagi is now back in full training ahead of Sunday's match with Ireland but his inclusion in England's XV is by no means certain. Brad Barritt and debutant Billy Twelvetrees both shone against Scotland, with Twelvetrees scoring England's second try, and Catt says the onus is on Tuilagi to oust one of them from the side.
"It is always difficult but it is a great headache to have," said England skills coach Catt. "From a team point of view you have three guys and each of them bring special attributes. It is great Billy has come along and performed the way he did against Scotland on his debut.
"Manu has been out of the game for three or four weeks. We will see how they all train and we will go accordingly from there. If the guys have performed exceptionally well on the weekend, the guys coming in need to make sure they have the tempo and up the intensity to really put their hands forward. That is what we want on Tuesday."
Barritt runs the England defence, even from the less familiar outside centre role he occupied in Tuilagi's absence last weekend. Catt outlined how important that would be against an Ireland side containing Jonathan Sexton and Brian O'Driscoll.
"It would be very hard (taking him out of the equation)," Catt said. "O'Driscoll is playing exceptionally well at the moment. I thought that first half Ireland produced (against Wales) was exceptional. We know they are capable of doing that.
"Defence is across the board. Everybody knows their roles. We need to focus on our attacking game too, which went pretty well against the Scots, and try and starve them of the ball so they can't do what they are good at. It is a little game of chess we have to try and win."
England are still waiting on Ben Morgan's fitness and have not yet official ruled the No.8 out of their plans for the Ireland match. But Morgan's chances look bleak. James Haskell is set to start in Morgan's anticipated absence with Tom Wood shifting across the back row from blindside flanker to number eight.
Billy Vunipola has returned to training and he would offer England a powerful and dynamic option off the bench. Catt added: "Billy Vunipola trained with us this morning and he is doing the afternoon session. I am looking forward to seeing what he can bring."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton pays a visit to Oxford University Women's Rugby Football Club who have recently made headlines across the world, from Tokyo to New York
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points