Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Matt Follows in the Footsteps of Wilko

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Matt Follows in the Footsteps of Wilko

Article excerpt

Byline: By Duncan Madsen

Falcons fans will see history made at Kingston Park tomorrow when Matthew Tait becomes the first schoolboy to make his first-team debut for Newcastle since rugby union went professional.

The 18-year-old Barnard Castle pupil takes a short break from preparation for his A levels, which he starts in five weeks time, to make his Zurich Premiership debut on the wing against London Irish (3pm).

Such is Tait's latent talent that it has excited seasoned pros such as Newcastle fitness coach Steve Black and Falcons boss Rob Andrew, himself a former product of Barnard Castle School.

"Matthew is a real talent blessed with exceptional pace," enthused Black, who has been working since Christmas with Tait alongside another former 18-year-old prodigy, Jonny Wilkinson.

"He can do the 100m in 10.5 seconds, which puts him alongside Tony Underwood for speed, and he has a talent which simply cannot be coached.

"Looking at him work, reminds me of Malcolm Allison when he saw the young George Best for the first time and Jackie Milburn on his first sight of the young Paul Gascoigne. Both said: `He's going to become the best player in the world,' and I think Matthew has it in him to become just that."

Although not quite as effusive - it's simply not his style - Andrew is equally as enthusiastic about Tait's ability and talent.

"Matthew is one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting, young players in the country and he's a local lad from Barnard Castle," said Andrew.

"Just about every club in the Premiership was interested in signing him and we are all really thrilled he has decided to come to us.

"Matthew has enormous potential as well as star quality and we hope to help him develop into one of the top players in the next few years. He's got so much pace allied to skill and can play anywhere in the back line, although he prefers playing out wide as outside centre, wing or full back. …

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