Catt calls on England to reach next level

World Cup warrior Mike Catt believes England must "take it to the next level" as they prepare for a semi-final showdown against host nation France. [more]

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World Cup warrior Mike Catt believes England must "take it to the next level" as they prepare for a semi-final showdown against host nation France.

The 36-year-old centre will win his 74th cap at Stade de France on Saturday night, having produced a midfield masterclass to help dispose of quarter-final rivals Australia in Marseille last weekend.

The old maestro must now help orchestrate another famous victory if England are to remain on course for an unprecedented successful Webb Ellis Trophy defence.

Catt has been instrumental – on and off the pitch – in plotting an England revival following a shambolic 36-0 defeat against possible World Cup final opponents South Africa four weeks ago.

Successive victories over Samoa, Tonga and the Wallabies have revitalised an England squad that looked beyond help when South Africa took them apart.

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England now return to the same ground with their World Cup hopes transformed, and Catt readily reflects that upturn in fortunes.

He said: "We have got a little bit of momentum now as a group, and we’ve got to take it to the next level.

"We always knew it was going to be a tough road, and I just like the way we have turned it all around from that South Africa game.

"As a group of players, we’ve always believed we have got something inside us. It is how we actually put it in place out on the pitch.

"Against South Africa that didn’t happen, but against Samoa, Tonga and Australia we have progressed radically, compared to what we were against South Africa. We are all happy we are going in the right direction.

"Losing 36-0 at international level is not very good at all, but the character of the players in turning it around just proves a week in rugby union is a long time."

England’s 12-10 success against Australia – although the scoreboard did not reflect it – showcased a team confident to run with the ball, whereas a month earlier all they could do was dart up blind alleys.

Catt added: "Sometimes, we probably did that a little too much and didn’t get out of our half as efficiently as we wanted to, so we just need to get that balance right, and when we do that the coaches and players will be a lot happier."

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