Mathew Tait showing 'outstanding' touches in training for Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill says winger Mat Tait is starting to show some "outstanding" touches in training as he battles back from a year out of the game with injury.
The former England man signed for Leicester at the start of last season but only played a handful of games before persistent groin problems got the better of him.
Tigers are hopeful that they have finally got on top of those difficulties and Cockerill says that, while they must be cautious over his return, there are already some good signs that he could return to his best.
"Some of the stuff he shows at training is outstanding and we have seen glimpses of what we have been missing," said Cockerill.
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"We took a risk in signing him and that has probably not paid off at this point. But he is a good lad and works very hard.
"There is every chance that he will be fully fit and every chance that he will find his form.
"There are not many world-class players out there to sign but Mat Tait, fully fit and on form, is as good as most."
Tait burst on to the season as an 18-year-old at Newcastle and was propelled into the England line-up by Andy Robinson in 2005 as a 19-year-old.
It was an ignominious start to his international career but he returned at the World Cup in 2007 where he made such an impact that fly-half Mike Catt called him "the future of English rugby".
Tait was in and out of the side during the next four years until injuries wrecked both his final year at Sale and his first year at Leicester.
Cockerill said that, despite having won 38 England caps, Tait is still a young man with a lot to offer.
"Mat is still only 26 and you tend to forget about that," he said. "He passes well off both hands and kicks off both feet, he has pace to burn and understands the game very well. There are not a huge amount of blokes you can say that about.
"He is a talented individual and a very skillful player, but the reality is that he has probably played less than 10 games in the last two years.
"We have to be careful, we don't want to just chuck him back in there because he would probably be fit a couple of weeks earlier if we did that.
"We want to get him used to the training volumes first of all. We have come this far, we need to be patient and get it right.
"We have a reserve-team game at the start of October and we should have him fit for that."