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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 05:14 GMT
Tait tipped for England comeback
By Matt Majendie
BBC Sport in Melbourne

Mathew Tait
Tait made his full England debut at 18 years old
Henry Paul believes Mathew Tait will inspire England's sevens team to Commonwealth gold and win his place back in Andy Robinson's first XV.

Tait played in the 2005 Six Nations opener against Wales before coach Robinson dropped him from the squad.

But Paul told BBC Sport: "He's special - very special.

"In fact, there's not a better player in sevens rugby in the world at the moment and he's going to take the Games by storm."

Robinson's treatment of Tait came in for criticism last year but Paul is convinced the 20-year-old Newcastle back will soon become an England star.

After this the plan's to try and hit my peak and get back in the England team
Mathew Tait

"He was treated pretty badly by England but, after Melbourne, he'll be back playing for them in no time," said Paul. "He's truly world class."

Paul, who played under Robinson for the three Tests in 2003 before being axed from the squad, credited Tait with single-handedly winning the Los Angeles leg of the IRB Sevens this season.

"He has the perfect game," he said. "He has an awesome side-step and a great jink, he has the pace to finish off moves and his defence is second to none.

"The other sevens star this season, to my mind, is Fiji's William Ryder - he just flies through defences but Mat's had him completely under wraps."

A number of big names have made their name on the sevens circuit before becoming global superstars in the XVs.

And Paul likened Tait to one in particular.

"People didn't know what had hit them when Jonah Lomu moved from sevens up to XVs," he said.

"Mat's got the potential to follow that and people have got to remember he's still only 20 years old."

Both Paul and Tait are expected to be key figures for England when the sevens gets under way on Thursday.

Tait revealed on Wednesday he will quit sevens at the end of the season to focus on his rugby with Newcastle.

"My boss Rob Andrew told me after this campaign that was it for me in sevens," he said, "and that's totally understandable. I owe Newcastle a lot.

"So after this the plan's to try and hit my peak and get back in the England team. I'd love to play for England and feel I've got loads to offer."

Links to more Commonwealth Games stories


Luger out of Games sevens squad
14 Mar 06 |  Commonwealth Games


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