Jason Taylor on replacing Robbie Farah and the future of Mitch Moses and James Tedesco
Paul Crawley, The Daily Telegraph
October 21, 2016 7:07pm
JASON Taylor says he never contemplated quitting. Not once over the past two seasons.
“I just love the game so much,” the Wests Tigers coach told The Saturday Telegraph.
“I understand that there are parts to it that you might not love.
“But I never want to walk away from the game because of the passion I have for it.
“It is just a matter of getting on with it.”
Which is exactly what Taylor is now planning to do ahead of preseason training, which kicks off on November 3.
In his first interview since Robbie Farah’s departure, Taylor opened up about:
His plans to give even greater power to young guns Mitchell Moses, Luke Brooks and James Tedesco;
Jamal Idris’s comeback, and the conversation that has Taylor convinced the wayward star is ready to make amends;
How he will use veteran Matt Ballin to help usher in rising star Jacob Liddle at hooker; and
Taylor’s own future at the club.
THE BIG THREE
With Farah gone, the last thing the Tigers need is more speculation about the futures of Tedesco, Moses and Brooks.
But come November 1, the gloves come off.
That is when rival clubs will be allowed to start negotiating with the Tigers’ star trio.
“I think it is important that it is not the headline for every second story around our club for however long it takes to finalise that,” Taylor said.
“The most important thing is that we all understand that it will be going on behind the scenes.
“And as a club we will let people know when there are developments. Otherwise we just need to get on with our preseason.”
Can the Tigers keep their stars?
Taylor said all the players had gained great confidence from the way they finished this season.
“The biggest mistake we could make is just to assume that the fact we played well in the back half of the season and got ourselves in contention, that is just going to continue,” Taylor said.
“We have to make sure that we take another step.”
While he doesn’t want to take away the flair and natural exuberance, the job for Moses, Brooks and Tedesco is to show greater game management from their 50-plus games of NRL experience.
“It is that mindset that has changed for us which is great,” Taylor explained.
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“And it means that we will go into every game next year confident that we can win it.
“Not just on the back of because we can do some freaky things.
“But on the back of we can play with more control and hopefully make better decisions when those opportunities come along.
“We don’t want to coach that out of them at all.
“We want to continue to build on that skill and ability.
“It is just about the decision making around it.”
After debuting at Canterbury in 2008 and representing NSW and Australia before his 21st birthday, Idris is now at his fourth NRL club.
And at 26, he arrives at the Tigers on his last chance.
Still to fully recover from a knee injury and not yet officially signed, Taylor revealed Idris had already started training.
“He is really committed,” Taylor said.
Jamal Idris will try to make a comeback with the Tigers.
“He took a break and travelled around the world and got completely away from rugby league and the pressures of it.
“Now he is coming back on his terms because he wants to play rugby league.
“And the big thing about Jamal is that he believes that there is so much more to do.
”We had one really good conversation in particular, just talking about what he wants to do with his career between now and the end of it.
“A lot of things came really easily to him in the first part of it.
“Now he has taken a break and appreciates the opportunity he has got. We are really hopeful we can tap into that.”
WHO WEARS NO. 9?
With Dene Halatua retired and Farah at Souths, the prized No. 9 jumper is up for grabs.
After coming across from Manly last year, 32-year-old Ballin had to undergo a full knee reconstruction, while 20-year-old Liddle only played one NRL game off the bench but is regarded as an exceptional talent.
“There is excitement around Jacob but I don’t want to overstate that because he has only had the one first grade game,” Taylor said.
“There is still a few questions for Jacob to answer.
Matt Ballin will start the season at hooker.
“He trained the full preseason with us last year and he handled that well so getting another pre season under his belt will be massive for him.
“Matt Ballin obviously had a big setback last year but there is still extreme confidence that he is going to be right to start the season.
“He had a really big influence on the group even though he hardly played a game.
“The plan will be for Matt Ballin to start the season and Jacob to be coming off the bench. But we have also signed Matt McIlwrick who has played a lot of first grade.
“We are really comfortable with that position.”
After what he’s been through over the past two seasons, surely Taylor would be nervous.
If the Tigers don’t start well next year, you can bet the knives will come out. Again.
But right now, he says his only priority is to make sure the preseason starts well.
For that to happen, he needs to focus on now, not the future.
“Obviously I have another year to run and I am comfortable with that,” Taylor said.
“There is no doubt that the team is in better shape than it has been for a number of years in regards to the quality of players across the positions, the depth and then the biggest thing is experience.”