Wests Tigers leader Elijah Taylor reckons there’s a distinct difference with coaches who have won a Telstra Premiership and those that haven’t after his first three months with Michael Maguire.
For the first time in the 28-year-old’s career, Taylor is being coached by a premiership-winner and has noticed a new level of class Maguire has brought to the club following the departure of Ivan Cleary to the Panthers.
Despite admitting the training “quantity” had risen, Maguire’s methods had rejuvenated Taylor’s game after a 2018 season of being used in the back row, lock and hooker.
“My whole outlook on footy is different,” Taylor told NRL.com.
"When you stop learning is when you get into trouble. You get a bit stale. Madge has brought in fresh ideas you know are successful because he’s used them at Souths and Wigan.
"That’s all his encouraging and I can tell the difference between coaches who have won a competition and those that haven’t.
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“The training quantity is a lot more with Madge but he’s both firm and fair. If you muck up you get a spray, if you don’t it’s all good.”
It’s a similar mindset from teammate Ben Matulino, who said Maguire was determined to get the former Warriors prop back to playing career-best football.
When you stop learning is when you get into trouble … Madge has brought in fresh ideas
Elijah Taylor on the arrival of Michael Maguire
Matulino managed 23 games for the Wests Tigers in his first season at the club but was down on his usual career totals for carries and average running metres (91.5m per game).
“He does a lot of one-on-one stuff with the players,” Matulino said. "The first time I spoke to him face-to-face he wanted to get me back to where he thought I should be.
“He challenges you along the way and it’s up to me whether I can knock those down. I’ve taken on board what he’s said to me.”
Matulino revealed Maguire even tried to pull the former Kiwi international out of representative retirement last season.
“We spoke ahead of the Denver Test but I’d retired a couple of years ago,” Matulino said.
Wests Tigers forward Elijah Taylor.weststigers.com.au
"He asked if I was interested and I said I couldn’t. The main reason was my kids. I did a tour away from them once and didn’t enjoy being away that long.
"I missed some of their child development and coming back in January you miss a chunk of the pre-season.
“I’d rather come back when everyone else does in November and not fall behind the eight-ball because it’s hard to play catch up later in the year.”