Tom Catterick wearing the 10 shirt for Newcastle Falcons against Saracens last weekend

Catterick relishing chance at Fly Half

Wednesday 31 December 2014

For Tom Catterick, December has been an interesting month, with the versatile back taking on a new role as Fly Half for Newcastle Falcons.

Impressing throughout the month, Catterick has relished the opportunity to play a part in the first team from the number 10 position.

"It’s been good, I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve been lucky enough to be getting picked there and starting there so I’m just trying to keep my head down and keep learning. Every day me and Dave (Walder) are talking about things I can improve on and how I can get better so I’m really just trying to learn as much as possible and do my best for the team."

A veteran of the Falcons' side at just 24, Catterick may be more familiar to fans as a Wing or Full Back, but does have a history at Fly Half.

"I played for England 16s at ten but then played Full Back for England Under 18s while Rory Clegg played ten and that was the same for Under 20s. I've had a few A league and inter-squad games at Fly Half but haven’t really trained there for about five years."

"I've always wanted to be heavily involved in the game and at the start of this year Dave said he wanted me to have a go at playing ten again because it suits my skills and my game so hopefully I've been doing alright."

Although enjoying the change of position, Catterick admits there are challenges to moving into a different role.

"The biggest one is doing the right thing at the right time. If you’re on the wing or at Full Back you see a lot more but when you’re at ten you have to be on the ball every second so it’s just about learning again what field position you need to be in when."

However, having spent Saturday's game playing between British and Irish Lion Mike Blair and Fly Half/Centre Juan Pablo Socino, Caterick has had no shortage of expertise to call upon.

"With Mike, lately we’ve been having a lot more conversations about the game and he’s helping me out a lot. It’s the same with Juan – if I’m not sure about something he’s always there and if I make a decision he’ll either give me a tap on the shoulder and say well done or will have a suggestion for me.

"The other guys are all very good at understanding that myself, Rory and Phil are all very different players, and at trying to support each of us in the best way they can so I’ve been really impressed and very thankful to have guys like that around me."

Another key source of expertise for Catterick has been Falcons Attack coach Dave Walder, himself a renowned Fly Half before moving from the playing side of the game into his current coaching role.

"Dave is great – he’ll sit me down and he’s positive with his feedback and will tell me what I’m doing right and doing wrong but he’s good for someone like me."

Throughout the season so far the Falcons, and particularly Walder, have come in for much praise for their new attacking brand of rugby, something Catterick believes the team are continuing to build upon.

"Our attacking game has come on leaps and bounds even just from the start of the season and over recent weeks we’ve really started to see how well we can attack and how good we can be. Now it’s about finishing those line breaks off and making sure they turn into points for us."

Having impressed during last weekend's home match against Saracens there will be no let up in the quality of opposition as the Falcons travel to Franklin's Gardens to face Northampton Saints this Friday.

"Saints are a big, physical side and have a lot of threats all over the pitch which is why they’re number one in the country at the minute. But I don’t think you could’ve asked for a better prep for us coming into this game – you’ve had Stade Francais at home and then away who are a big side with a big pack; then we had Quins away who have a high quality back line and a good pack; then last week against Sarries who are physical all around.

"They all match up and it’s pretty much exactly what Northampton are; they’ve got a good physical backline and a good pack that likes to bully you so I think we’ve had really good prep coming into this. There are certain things we need to fix from last week and some crucial things we need to get better so we can be in with a chance of winning but I think it will be a cracking game down there."

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