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You are all English now, says Tait to his Falcons.

Byline: Matt Leslie

YOU'RE all English now is Falcons boss Alan Tait's message to his foreign legion ahead of Saturday's clash against Ospreys.

Newcastle entertain the Welsh side in the first round of LV Cup fixtures at Kingston Park and while some might see this competition as not being important as the Premiership, it certainly matters a great deal where national pride is concerned.

The Wales v England rivalry is as tasty as they come in rugby with each claiming the historical banner of being the Northern Hemisphere's champion of the sport.

Whether it be at the Millennium Stadium, Twickenham or any inter-nation club fixture, Anglo-Welsh fixtures are usually treated by the latter especially as the sequel to the Battle of Orewin Bridge.

A lot of history for the likes of Kiwis Jimmy Gopperth and Jeremy Manning, Samoan Filipo Levi and South African Gcobani Bobo to absorb and carry onto the pitch.

And for Tait, it appears he has been doing the unthinkable this week - a Scotsman rallying others to an English cause. He smiled: "I did say to the lads in training - with tongue in cheek - given that I'm a Celt with my Scottish blood, that their Kiwis will be turning Welsh on Saturday. "I then tapped Jimmy Gopperth on the shoulder and said, 'you're going to be English aren't you?' There were giggles all round.

"There is definitely a Wales-England rivalry there. They see playing a Premiership club as a massive scalp to be had. There's no way they'll want to come away from here without a win so we know there's an extra bit of spice in there.

"It's also a game that Paul Moriarty (Tait's assistant) wants to get over. Although he was at Llanelli Scarlets for a while, he's a Swansea boy so deep down he'll be burning inside to get a result and rub it into his countrymen back home.

"It's good that we're playing Ospreys because they're a good club that's come a long way in such a short time. They're going to be lacking a lot of the Welsh players, but they've still got enough quality in depth and there will be some stars on the field."

One key strength for Ospreys that Falcons will have to keep an eye on is the breakdown which has become somewhat of a speciality for the Swanseabased side.

The area has been a crucial feature in many of their games over the years with opposing teams being cleaned out on a regular basis.

Tait added: "Breakdown is important. People talk about getting numbers in there quickly, but for the first instance it should be number.

"What I mean is that it will be (Ospreys back-rower) Marty Holah against whoever gets there first. There's no point in sending six players in just to clear one guy out. We need to get the contact area right and get quick ball with as few a number as possible. They definitely want to make the game more physical and slow the ball down because that suits their blitz defence which doesn't work on quick ball.

"Ospreys are as good as anybody on the blitz defence because they train for that everyday. They know all the negatives and positives on how things work."

Meanwhile, Tait has finally received word on the true extent of prop-forward Jon Golding's troubled Achilles. And while the news is not good, both club and player at least know of how long it will be before he's back in a black shirt again.

Tait continued: "Jonny Golding went down to London to see a specialist and it's been good and bad news.

"He was told that he has a tear on his Achilles and he's now got his foot in one of those air-plastic boots for three weeks. It's frustrating for the club because we now know he could be out for seven or eight weeks but for Jonny he now has some peace of mind. He's happier in himself now that he knows he's got a target.

"Jonny's a big miss for us but hopefully will have him back for the big run-in of Premiership games in 2011."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Nov 5, 2010
Words:693
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