Sanderson delighted with Catt comeback

England captain Pat Sanderson has hailed the resurgence of World Cup-winner and former British & Irish Lion Mike Catt as he prepares for a return to Test match rugby. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

England captain Pat Sanderson has hailed the resurgence of World Cup-winner and former British & Irish Lion Mike Catt as he prepares for a return to Test match rugby.

Catt is expected to land an England recall just three months before his 35th birthday in the Telstra Stadium clash against Australia.

The London Irish centre last played international rugby two years ago when the Wallabies crushed England 51-15 in Brisbane.

But his outstanding form for the Exiles this season – Irish were Guinness Premiership title contenders and European Challenge Cup finalists – has proved a likely prelude to Catt lining up alongside 20-year-old Newcastle midfield prospect Mathew Tait when England revisit the scene of their 2003 World Cup final triumph.

"Mike’s experience is invaluable, without doubt, and I think that his form in the Premiership this year has been as good as he’s ever played," said Worcester back-row forward Sanderson.

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"It’s obviously good for me, because I can call on his experience, and I’m really looking forward to it."

England head coach Andy Robinson is keeping selection cards close to his chest ahead of Wednesday’s planned team announcement.

"Catty has worked with me and Brian Ashton (England attack coach) and understands how to bring players into the game," said Robinson, who toured New Zealand last summer with the Lions.

"He communicates well, both on and off the pitch, and he has added a great freshness to the side."

England’s victory over the Wallabies at Twickenham last November was built on an imposing forward platform, highlighted by prop Andrew Sheridan’s merciless destruction of opposite number Al Baxter.

Australia could not compete in the critical scrum battle, and although Sheridan is absent Down Under due to injury, Robinson still possesses a powerful front-row armoury through a likely starting combination of Graham Rowntree, Lee Mears and Julian White.

It is an area where England will again look to dominate, especially as Wallabies coach John Connolly is thought to be considering starts for two international rookies in hooker Tai McIsaac and prop Rodney Blake.

"Apart from that (Test at Twickenham) the Australian scrum has been very very good," insisted Robinson, also well aware of the impact recently-appointed Wallabies forwards coach Michael Foley is likely to make.

"I thought that it was very good in the Tri-Nations last year – it just had a disappointing autumn, when it got caught by a team that performed well on the day.

"I have got no doubt the Australians, with the coaching team they have and the players they’ve picked, that the scrum won’t be an issue.

"We know, as always, going into these matches it will be highly competitive and we’re going to have to work hard in that area to dominate."

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