Alex Tait says Newcastle Falcons are refreshed and ready to attack the last phase of the Aviva Premiership season as they head to Harlequins on Saturday.
The 29-year-old full-back is just two games away from his 200th competitive appearance for his home club, and heads down to the capital with a full tank following a brief mid-season break.
“Sometimes during the season when you’ve got that week-to-week pattern it’s good to have a short time away to recharge the batteries,” said Tait, whose side last played on March 5.
“Unfortunately it arose due to us not being involved in the cup competitions, but the benefit of having that short time away is the ability to return mentally and physically refreshed for the closing part of the Premiership.
“It has been a bit like a mini off-season, and the result has been that everybody has come back really hungry to get stuck into the games which are coming up. I know my own body has been thankful for the opportunity to have this little freshener and the lads have fired back into it since we’ve come back.”
Revealing an overseas visit during his time away from Kingston Park, Tait explained: “I managed to get away to New York with the Mrs during our week off training. We saw some cheap flights, jumped at the chance and luckily got home on the last flight before the snow storms came in!
“The first day back at the club was basically blowing the cobwebs out with the strength and conditioning coaches, and our review from the Saracens game. We’ve put that one to bed, everyone is focused and training has been really good from then onwards in preparation for Harlequins on Saturday.”
Currently placed eighth in the Aviva Premiership table as they look to eat into the eight-point gap between themselves and sixth-placed Leicester Tigers, Saturday’s trip to the Twickenham Stoop sees them facing a Harlequins side who sit six points and one place above them in seventh spot.
Tait said: “We had a players’ meeting last week about what we want to do for the last five games, and as a set of lads we want to make sure we do everything we can to be at our best every time we go on the field.
“We’ve got an opportunity to have a special season – certainly the best one we’ve had here for a while – because we haven’t played Champions Cup rugby here for more than a decade now.
“As a group if we can get into that top six, that’s our aim. It would be our highest finish in more than 10 years, it would be an awesome achievement for the lads the coaching staff and our supporters, and we just want to do everything we can in our preparation for every single game.”
Having beaten Harlequins 38-32 when the two teams met in the North East in December, the former Consett RFC junior said: “Quins away is the first match in that final block, and we’re going down there to fire into them.
“They’ll have all their big boys back from the Six Nations but we believe we can beat anyone if we play well on the day, and we believe in ourselves that we can go down there and get the result. We’ll certainly give it our best shot.”