Mike Catt identifies key threat to Ireland in Six Nations finale

Assistant coach Mike Catt says it is crucial Ireland shut down Scotland’s rookie international fly-half Blair Kinghorn and do not allow him to “play the game in a dinner suit”.

Edinburgh man Kinghorn is a surprise selection for Saturday’s pivotal Guinness Six Nations game in Dublin, pushing the influential Finn Russell to the bench.

Having won the majority of his 30 Test caps at full-back or wing, the 25-year-old will make only his second start in his country’s number 10 jersey following some impressive club displays in the United Rugby Championship.

England World Cup winner Catt, who operated at full-back, fly-half and centre during his illustrious international career, believes Kinghorn is capable of doing some major damage to Irish hopes of clinching the Triple Crown.

CARDIFF, WALES - FEBRUARY 07: Mike Catt, the Ireland backs coach looks on during the Guinness Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at Principality Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales.Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“Listen, I’ve watched some footage on Blair and I think he’s a fantastic player,” said Catt.

“He’s got a running game, he’s very explosive, he’s got a hell of a passing game and, if he gets the time and space, his kicking game is exceptional too, he’s got a really big boot.

“We’d like to think we’re not going to give him that opportunity to sit back and play the game in a dinner suit, so it’s crucial that we do get after him.

“But, as a rugby player, I think what he’ll do for that Scotland team is massive. He’s a big threat for us.”

While Ireland must remain wary of Kinghorn’s ability to dictate play, their own fluid attack, which has conjured 20 tries in this Six Nations campaign, has become less dependent on the fly-half.

A notable aspect of the team’s evolving style under head coach Andy Farrell has been the willingness of players to interchange positions and switch first receiver.

Attack coach Catt says the development is deliberate and key to maintaining a rapid tempo.

“Everybody’s a ball player, everybody’s connected, the attack is 15 players every single time we have the ball,” said the 50-year-old, who won four Six Nations titles as a player.

“We’re very comfortable. The progress Bundee (Aki) has made, Garry Ringrose, Hugo Keenan stepping in those positions, it’s almost been seamless for them.

“It’s just a way that we can play a quick game of rugby, play at the speed we want to play at.

“And ultimately it gives Johnny (Sexton) or our 10s an ability to take a breath sometimes and not be reliant on them all the time.

“I think it’s worked so far really, really well. But it’s something we’ll get better at and the guys will become more and more comfortable the more we do it.”