Maturing Tait ready to stake claim at outside-centre

ENGLAND centre Mathew Tait has vowed to make the No13 shirt his own and shrug off his reputation as a utility man once and for all.

Tait’s versatility has hindered his international career, denting his bid for a regular place and meaning he did not start a single match at the 2007 World Cup in his favoured outside-centre role.

The 24-year-old Sale player regrets not being more vocal about his preferred position earlier in his career but is determined to make up for lost time, starting against Ireland on Saturday.

“This is the position I feel the most comfortable in. I have played the majority of my rugby there 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.

“As a young guy you just want to play for your country. It is a personality thing as well. I am a reasonably quiet guy and looking back I was just happy to be involved.

“The ability to cover a few positions has probably stood me in good stead over the years in terms of being involved in the squads – but not in starting games and as you move on you want to nail down a position.”

Meanwhile, Ireland flanker Jerry Flannery is to appeal his six-week ban for kicking France’s Alexis Palisson.