Monday 25 September 2017

Tait in hurry to outshine O'Driscoll on centre stage

Mathew Tait is determined to make up for lost time and prove he can be England's answer to Brian O'Driscoll.

The 24-year-old does not have a history of making bold statements and even this one was whispered almost shyly in a corridor at the England team hotel.

But with Ireland and O'Driscoll -- the finest player of his generation -- due at Twickenham this weekend, Tait knows the time has come to speak up.

The majority of Tait's England career has been spent as a 'jack of all trades' -- 17 of his 34 caps have been from the bench -- and he regrets not demanding earlier to be considered as an outside centre. But he knows there is no better chance to nail down the position long term than to perform well against O'Driscoll.

Comfortable

"This is the position I feel the most comfortable in and I need to justify my selection," said Tait. "I probably should have said I wanted to stick to one position. In the World Cup final I played the second half at full-back and it went reasonably well -- but I should have been stronger about where I want to play.

"I play the game to test myself against the top players and O'Driscoll certainly is that. He is a guy I grew up watching. He has been one of the top players, top centres in world rugby.

"I am pleased to be in the mix and, fingers crossed, if this weekend goes alright, I will be for a long time."

Irish Independent

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