George Catchpole eager to make the most of his fresh start with Leicester Tigers
PUBLISHED: 10:57 04 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:57 04 November 2016
Scoring his first Aviva Premiership try against English and European champions Saracens looks to have given George Catchpole’s career a welcome kick-start.
The former North Walsham junior won the Players’ Young Player of the Season award at Leicester Tigers in 2015, but saw the previous campaign punctured by the energy-sapping illness glandular fever.
He played for Championship club Doncaster on September 24, scoring a try in a 25-13 home win over Rotherham in the British & Irish Cup.
The 22-year-old was back in the thick of it with Leicester sooner than expected, though, after Tigers’ star summer signing Matt Toomua picked up a serious knee injury during a crucial 27-17 defeat of Racing in the European Champions Cup.
With the Australian back ruled out for six months, Catchpole was promoted to the replacements’ bench for the league trip to reigning champions Saracens on Saturday.
The former Norwich School pupil then took full advantage of his unexpected opportunity, scoring with his first touch, skilfully controlling an Adam Thompstone offload close to the touchline and crashing over under pressure with 14 minutes remaining.
It completed an exciting team move which was started by a dummy from fly-half Freddie Burns on his own 22, to give the score-line a more respectable look for Richard Cockerill’s side.
“Obviously I was delighted to score my first try for the club – it was a good team try, but it was very much a consolation in terms of the result and what we wanted to get from the game, so disappointing in that respect,” Catchpole said.
“It’s heartbreaking for Matt to be injured after such a short time with the club, but it’s obviously an opportunity for myself. I’m just going to do what I’m told to do and be where I need to be.”
It was a first senior try for the former England Under-20 international, who helped win the Junior World Championship in 2014, and was also nominated for the Citizen Try of the Week award.
“I can’t really remember anything of it other than being over the try-line, apart from having the world’s biggest nose bleed!” joked the centre. “It was an awesome team try, because we started in our own 22, so very much a team try.
“With all the subs out there the message was just go out and try to make a difference, speed the game up. I think we did that fairly well.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get anything from the match but there are positives from the last 20 minutes I suppose, in our attack play and everyone just flying about trying to make a difference.”
Catchpole, originally from St Olaves, near Great Yarmouth, is now set to feature in tonight’s Anglo-Welsh Cup first round match at Bath – as some of the club’s star names head off for international duty.
The competition, formerly known as the LV Cup, is returning after a 12-month break due to the Rugby World Cup last season.
“I hope to be playing in both of these games and get a chance to showcase what I can do and hope to remain in the Premiership side when that comes back around,” he added, with a home clash against Newport Gwent Dragons to follow next Saturday.
“I’ve had a few setbacks the last couple of seasons but hopefully I can do well in this next couple of games and cement myself as a regular in the squad.”