Catt: South Africa tour will be 'brutal'
May 31, 2012
Mike Catt will return to the country of his birth for the tour © Getty Images
England backs coach Mike Catt has warned the team to expect a "brutal" five-match, three-Test tour of South Africa.
Catt, who was born in Port Elizabeth before uprooting to Bath, has forewarned Mouritz Botha and Brad Barritt ahead of the tour. Botha and Barritt were also born in South Africa, and Catt says he has done his utmost to brace them for the kind of abuse they can expect to receive.
"You can't prepare for it. You have to feel it," said Catt. "Stuart Lancaster has been sending emails for the past three or four months saying 'prepare yourself, prepare yourself, prepare yourself'.
"Brad Barritt did a presentation for us last night in connection with what to expect from the country and what to expect from the people - but when it comes onto the pitch it is fierce, it is brutal.
"I remember us going down in 2000 and we played the first Test and then we couldn't train until the Thursday because we were so physically battered by it. These guys are going to have to be mentally tough and I think the environment we have created at the moment is going to put us into good stead."
Catt toured the country of his birth in England colours on two occasions, in 1994 and 2000. He wants to see the current England generation make the most of their opportunity in South Africa three years out from hosting the next World Cup.
"It is a brilliant place to go and a very welcoming place but very, very hostile environment when you do get into the rugby circles. But there is nothing better than beating them," Catt said.
"Winning there was one of the major highlights of my career, knowing what it means to the country and to the people. When we went there in 2000 with Clive Woodward we lost the first Test, which we should have won, and then won the second Test.
"I have seen both sides of it, the disappointment of losing and then winning in Bloemfontein - the heartland of South African rugby - was something that was very, very special. Not many teams achieve that.
"That tour was a massive stepping stone to the success we had at the World Cup. To go down to South Africa and beat them there was a massive confidence boost for us. With the culture and everything that Stuart has there, we now need to take it another level and build it up to the 2015 World Cup."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton