These Cats have claws

Former All Black coach Laurie Mains believes the Cats will be competitive in the Super 14 this year.

Mains, who took the Cats to the Super 12 semis in 2000 and 2001, has spent this week helping Ludeke plan for the tournament and he will be “on call” to the Cats coaching staff until May.

The Cats have a terrible record in the Super 12 since the New Zealander left the franchise, finishing 11th in 2002, 12th in 2003 and 2004 and 11th in 2005. Jozi rugby fans are hoping for a bit of “Mains magic” to rub off on their team in 2006.

“There are a couple of young and inexperienced players in the squad, but the team will improve,” Mains told Beeld newspaper. “The Cats will make waves and be competitive.”

Mains has focused most of his attention on the forwards, who will have to fire if their dangerous backs are to be effective.

“They’ve got a very good backline, but a team’s strong point can’t just be their backs,” he said. “If they don’t get the right ball, they can’t do anything. We’ve worked hard the past few days to ensure the backs get the quality possession.”

Meanwhile, Cats coach Frans Ludeke was optimistic about the team’s chances.

“The guys are fresh and there are no serious injuries with the exception of Andre Pretorius. The biggest plus is the continuity because the entire Lions system could be moved as is to the Cats,” he said.