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Premiership Rugby

Catt ‘never stopped believing’

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The Bath centre describes the period as a "lonely road", but he never lost sight of the ultimate goal – the World Cup. England coach Clive Woodward kept his faith in the South African-born playmaker and after giving him the summer off, drafted him into England's World Cup squad.

The move came as a surprise to many as Catt had not initially featured in Woodward's plans, but the veteran international is well aware of the nature of sport and takes his critics views on the chin.

"It's been a lot of hard work and it's been a pretty lonely road over the last two years," said Catt. "But I never lost sight of the ultimate goal of playing for England at the World Cup.

"Rugby's a funny sport. I've had injuries for the last two or three years, but I've come through them and I'm thoroughly enjoying it at the moment. I'm also enjoying a different outlook on life after the birth of my daughter last year.

"A lot of people wrote me off two months ago. That's why I say it's a fickle sport. But rugby's been everything to me."

Catt silenced his critics, however, after a string of strong performances in the tournament and when he came on as a second half substitute against Wales in the tournament quarter-finals on Sunday, he provided the necessary spark to ignite a struggling England side into action.

His performance has not gone unnoticed and Woodward has rewarded him with a place in the starting XV against the French, breaking the incumbent midfield combination of Mike Tindall and Will Greenwood in the process.

Catt has been picked chiefly for the options he provides as another playmaker and to ease the burden on fly-half Jonny Wilkinson.

"Jonny Wilkinson handles pressure exceptionally well and there's been a phenomenal amount put on him for the last couple of games," said Catt.

"I hope I can take a bit of the heat off him so he can roam the field a bit more.

"And maybe I can bring a bit of freshness. The side's done exceptionally well for the last two years and done well to lose only about one in 20 games but maybe I can bring something fresh."

Catt still has vivid memories of his last World Cup semi-final when, playing at fullback, the Jonah Lomu-inspired All Blacks ended England's hopes of a Final place with a 45-29 demolition in Cape Town back in 1995.

He is now looking forward to another bite of the cherry.

"The All Blacks took us by storm that day but if anything that game helped me get to the top of the tree," he said.

"I'm very fortunate to have another chance again and it's great to have this opportunity. I don't think we're going to need motivation like that on Sunday though."

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