Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Flexible Friends Wait for Wasps

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Flexible Friends Wait for Wasps

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Mathew Tait makes his long-awaited return for Newcastle Falcons in front of the television cameras on Sunday. But while the England star will be wearing the No 12 shirt, coach John Fletcher insists he will not be playing as an orthodox inside centre.

Tait and Jamie Noon will form a flexible midfield partnership against London Wasps which could ultimately be replicated at international level.

"Mathew will wear No 12 but won't play the traditional inside centre role," said Fletcher.

"He and Jamie are capable of playing both inside and outside, and will interchange during the game as they see fit. It's not a case of playing left and right, there will just be times when they line up in different positions. The only time the backs line up in an orthodox pattern is from the set piece, scrum or line-out, and if you look at a whole game of rugby there are surprisingly few of those.

"Most of the game is played from rucks or tackles when the play is broken up, so for Noony and Taity it's just a number on their backs."

The 2pm Premiership kick-off will be Tait's first game since knee surgery after injuring the joint in August.

England coach Andy Robinson will be watching closely with the former Barnard Castle student destined to be an integral part of his plans for the autumn internationals.

Tait's introduction is one of four changes as the Falcons look to build on last week's morale-boosting 25-9 EDF Energy Cup win over Llanelli Scarlets.

Captain Matthew Burke returns at full-back after a thigh injury, and Anthony Elliott moves to the wing in place of John Rudd. James Grindal comes in at scrum-half, with Robbie Morris at loose head. "The result was good and certain aspects of the game were pleasing, but there were parts we weren't totally happy with and we're not resting on our laurels," said Fletcher of the Llanelli game. …

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