Tom Catterick insists his switch to fly-half at Newcastle Falcons has taken his Aviva Premiership Rugby performances to the next level this season.
The 24-year-old has made by far his biggest contribution at Kingston Park this campaign, with two tries and 62 points in total from his 12 appearances – of which nine were starts.
But having been deployed on the wing and at full-back in previous seasons, Catterick is hopeful he has repaid Dean Richards for moving him into the middle of the park.
“This season I’ve managed to nail down a spot in the side and that’s been really good for my rugby,” he said.
“In previous years I’ve been moved around a bit, from wing to full-back and then back again, so this year it was nice to get told Newcastle wanted me to play fly-half.
“They said they were either going to pick me there or not pick me at all, which might sound a bit harsh but it’s been great to be in the same position every week and it’s helped me a lot.
“Looking back on it there are of course some things I’d like to do differently, but I think the tactical side of my game has come on – knowing when to kick and when not to and things like that.
“When you’re a wing or a full-back you find yourself in those positions less often than you do at fly-half, and getting my hand on the ball a lot more in the game has given me so much more confidence.
“I have 80 touches a game now rather than 10, so I absolutely think that position suits my style of play. It might not quite show on the pitch yet but hopefully it will soon!”
Local lad Catterick is a Falcons academy product, and having been brought up watching Jonny Wilkinson grace the Newcastle No.10 shirt he admits running out at his home ground still gives him goosebumps.
But with results not matching their competitive performances for much of this season – illustrated by losing five of their last six games by less than a one-score margin – Catterick is adamant his side are close to finding the winning formula.
He said: “It’s a tough one to pinpoint why we haven’t had more wins. We’ve improved so much this season, both in attack and defence, and now we are imposing ourselves on teams – including top-four teams – who we were losing comfortably to before.
“We just need to iron out those tiny little things, as at the end of the day – as clichéd as it is – those are the things that cost you games. One missed tackle and you end up losing a game by seven points.
“Our tactics have come on leaps and bounds and our defence needs improving, but we have one game left and hopefully we can finish the season on a high.
“I still love playing at Kingston Park. I used to come up all the time with my mum and dad to watch games, and the crowd has always been good.
“But this season in particular they have grown and that makes a huge difference not only to us, but to the opposition as well.
“It’s loud, you can’t hear yourself talk, and it’s really been fantastic this year.”
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