Tait - O'Driscoll is top class
Sale star hoping to impress against boyhood idol
By Joe Drabble. Last Updated: February 24, 2010 5:23pm
Tait: Ultimate test at Twickenham
England centre Mathew Tait has spoken of his admiration for Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll as the pair prepare to go head-to-head at Twickenham on Saturday.
"I play the game to test myself against the top players and O'Driscoll certainly is that."
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The Sale star has started both of England's 2010 RBS Six Nations victories, but will be in for his toughest examination to date when the Irish arrive at HQ this weekend.
After flirting with a number of positions along England's backline during his 34 international caps, Tait now has his sights firmly set on making the number 13 jersey his own.
And the 24-year-old knows a solid display against O'Driscoll will turn that dream into a reality.
"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.
"Jason Robinson (Sale coach) has been a big help for me this year in giving me the confidence to go out there and do my thing.
"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.
"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 this weekend goes alright and I will be for a long time."
Tait has made his mark on both England's victories so far - creating a try against Wales and scoring one of his own in the narrow win in Italy.
But the former Newcastle man admits he wants to see more of the ball this weekend.
"I am relatively pleased how those game have gone but I want to get my hands on the ball a bit more. That has been quite frustrating," said Tait.
"It is up to me to work hard and put myself into positions where I can."
Tait has also urged his team-mates to silence those critics who labelled England "too negative" during their recent 17-12 win against Italy.
Tait's try, created by Ugo Monye and Delon Armitage, was the only time England showed their attacking quality and it proved to be the difference in Rome.
"The whole group wants to go out and play attacking rugby but we have to make sure we do it at the right time," said Tait.
"The coaches are giving us the freedom to go out and do what we want.
"Last week there was too much kicking. That doesn't mean we will be crazy and throw it around when it is not on but we all want to play an attacking brand of rugby."