Sibling rivalry for Alex Tait as ex Newcastle Falcons star Mat returns

Leicester Tigers and former Kingston Park favourite Mathew visit the North East on Sunday, to the delight of younger brother Alex

Mathew Tait in action for Leicester Tigers
Mathew Tait in action for Leicester Tigers

Alex Tait says the prospect of playing against his brother Mathew will not throw him from his task when Newcastle Falcons host Leicester Tigers on Sunday.

Younger sibling Alex, 25, last season passed the 100-game mark in Falcons colours, and has again been one of their most consistent performers during a season in which they sit second-bottom of the Premiership table.

Mathew, 27, spent five productive seasons with the Kingston Park club, and is now an established presence for reigning champions Leicester after an injury-interrupted couple of years.

Sunday’s 2pm kick-off will not be the first time the two have squared up on a rugby field, Alex joking: “He is obviously a weakness for them!

“No, in all seriousness I think everyone knows he is definitely a very good player for the Tigers, along with a lot of others in the Leicester squad.

“I hope he will be playing on Sunday so I can give him a few digs, but we will have to see how selection goes before we can get too excited about that.”

Alex, who still qualifies to play international rugby for both Scotland and England, revealed the pre-match ribbing was well underway as the two former Barnard Castle schoolboys prepare to go up against each other.

He said: “Mathew keeps leaving me voicemail messages asking to speak to the slowest full-back in the Aviva Premiership!

“I respond by taking the mickey out of his pointy nose, but it is just the standard sort of juvenile banter you would expect between brothers and it will all be down to business come game time.

“I think our parents just bite their nails, and I imagine it is not their ideal scenario the two of us playing for different clubs against one another.

“A Newcastle win and both of us playing well would probably be their best-case outcome, and that sounds fair enough to me.”

Alex was one of the stand-outs for a resurgent Falcons side in last Sunday’s 22-16 defeat to league leaders Northampton, their late bonus point increasing the gap between themselves and the bottom of the league to 12 points with seven games remaining.

Neither the Six Nations nor rugby league’s Super League have yet embraced the bonus-point concept, which some perceive to be a reward for failure.

Tait is not among that number, insisting: “The bonus point system keeps things interesting.

“It gives you something to aim for when you have one of those shocking first halves like we did against Northampton, and means there is still a reward if you can score four tries or get to within seven points.

“It keeps things exciting for the fans, and means there is still something to work for in a game where the result may already have been virtually decided.”

Hoping to improve on the 31-6 defeat they suffered at Leicester in September, Tait said: “We have got to move forward now, and make sure we do it in both halves.

“It is Leicester so it gets no easier, but that is part and parcel of what makes the Premiership so great.

“We desperately wanted to be in this league all year last season when we were playing in the Championship, and we have shown in the past we can turn these teams over.

“It is a massive buzz for everybody when we play the top sides, including our supporters I am sure, and we can use it as a chance to generate massive momentum for the rest of the season.

“We have got to get back on the horse, put things right from the Northampton game and try to put them to the sword.”

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