Ireland must bare claws against Italy, says attack coach Catt

Dublin (AFP) –


Ireland attack coach Mike Catt said criticism of the team's lack of cutting edge was justified as they seek their first win of the 2021 Six Nations campaign against Italy.

The 49-year-old admitted Andy Farrell's men had been disappointed with their return of just two tries in the 21-16 defeat by Wales and the 15-13 loss to France.

Ireland travel to Rome for Saturday's match seeking to avoid losing their first three games in the tournament for the first time since their last Five Nations' wooden spoon in 1998.

They are above bottom-placed Italy courtesy of two losing bonus points.

"If you're not scoring tries, everybody has got room to criticise, haven't they?" Catt told a press conference on Monday.

"How many did France score against us? But... listen, you look back to the (2020) Six Nations, the (Autumn) Nations Cup, we have scored some good tries, we've scored some very exciting tries, the players have done exceptionally well.

"Circumstances haven't let us do that in this campaign at the moment, so that's why the focus for this weekend is making sure we can get a foothold in the game and go and do what we're good at."

The bluntness of the backs is in sharp contrast to last year, when Ireland finished joint top try scorers in the Six Nations with 17 tries.

Catt, a World Cup winner with England in 2003, believes training has been positive and that the players will click on matchday.

"We've obviously been pretty disappointed in terms of our finishing, but ultimately the players have to get that right for this weekend," he said.

He said negative headlines or criticism did not influence how he approached his job.

"Put it this way -- I haven't seen one headline or read one article," he said. "I'm doing my job and I am thoroughly enjoying my job.

"That's how I put my focus into it. My job is working with the team and making sure we perform.

"Unfortunately, we have not done that to the standard that everybody else expects us to and we expect to."

Catt said Ireland had been given a clean bill of health over coronavirus unlike France, whose camp has been ravaged.

"We all got tested three times this week, we've had a test this morning, so again we are Covid-free as we currently stand," he said.

"We're very happy with the way things are going, the players have been exceptional in sticking to their protocols and our protocols.

"That's all we currently can do and at the moment we're going pretty well on that."