Tait’s team wants to start the way they mean to go on

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STEELERS want to “set the tone” as they start their 2011-12 series with arch rivals Nottingham Panthers on Sunday (5pm.)

The Challenge Cup game is one of a minimum of eight occasions the ‘derby’-style competitors will lock horns this term.

And Ashley Tait, the Steeler who had 10 seasons at Nottingham, wants the champions to put down a message.

“This is where we set the tone. These games are special events. It might be location, geography or history, maybe a combination of all three. But you feel these games inside you and recognise the importance of them. Players know what these games mean to those in the stands. I hope the fans realise that the games mean as much to us, as well” said Tait.

“We will be fighting with the Panthers for all of the trophies this year. On Sunday, it’s Challenge Cup, we want to progress in that competition and win that trophy.

“I think last weekend was a great way to build up to a Panthers’ game. We were short-handed and had to dig deep and go to dirty places to find a way to win in Cardiff. We showed we can go to those places and win that way.

“We won’t be out worked and we won’t be out battled. Sunday will be everything that is good is about the Steelers-Panthers rivalry.”

Tait, 36, said all the new players on the squad would know the importance of the game.

“We won’t have to remind the players of that; you don’t need a reminder that the Panthers are coming.

“The new guys like Matt Stephenson and Birnstill don’t need a history lesson or a sit-down and the rivalry explaining.

“They already know what to expect. They have heard to guys talking already, they have asked their questions, they already understand.

“I don’t think a pep talk to Stephenson will get him any more fired up and ready than he normally is.”