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Catt hopes calm and collected Ireland can see of Scottish physicality


Calmness under pressure - that's what assistant coach Mike Catt wants to see from Ireland in their Autumn Nations Cup closer.

Scotland visit the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, for the competition's inaugural 3rd place playoff.

Despite the contrived nature of the game's status, a big performance will be required of Ireland.

Atonement for last week's display against Georgia will be the order of the day. Ireland's second win of the autumn has become the wrong kind of benchmark.

In the build-up to the Scotland game, head coach Andy Farrell and captain Jonathan Sexton have both spoken of the need to convert the chances Ireland have been creating.

But Catt's warned that the side can't afford to get flustered in their attempts to build a score.

The former England international says they've got to channel their internal squad pressure in the right manner.

"Peer pressure is driven by the players," Catt said after the captain's run, "And it's something we need to get better at, I think.

"But in the same breath, for us to play a game at international level you have to be calm.

"You have to be patient, and you have to stay in the moment.

"When people are screaming and shouting at each other - although there's place for it on the training pitch every now and again - but at the moment we're still learning.

"We're still trying to get to a place where we can execute things, and you have to be in the right frame of mind to do that.

"The players definitely hold themselves accountable, but again it's something I suppose we could be a little bit better on."

Furthermore, Catt says that such screaming and shouting is no use unless everyone is pulling in the same direction, "If you aren't in a clear-headed zone, you're not going to make the right decisions.

"And rugby union is all about decision-making, whether it's defence, kicking, whatever it is. And you've got to be in a good headspace to do that.

"And if you're getting frustrated with other people, you've got to make sure that you bail yourself back out of that.

"It's very very easy with people making mistakes or whatever to scream and shout about it, but it's being composed, being controlled and getting onto the next thing."

Helping the squad with the mental side of the game of late has been Gary Keegan.

The mental skills coach has an impressive CV having previously worked with the Dublin footballers, the Irish high-performance unit in boxing and Cricket Ireland.

But Catt has an inkling the side's zen will be tested by a brutish Scottish pack on Saturday.

"They've been very physical in the breakdown," the former England out-half said, "They've been talking about that as well, so we need to make sure we try and get parity there.

"But it is always a big, physical battle. They came over here in February and it was a big physical battle.

"So we don't expect anything less tomorrow, and hopefully the conditions will allow us to play some good, flowing rugby as well."

Alan Quinlan | IRFU critics a ‘Leinster thing?’; Ben Healy future | OTB AM



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Andy Farrell Autumn Nations Cup Ireland Mike Catt Scotland

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