Taylor happy to stay to fight for Crusaders spot

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2014
Tom Taylor
MATT KING/ Getty
KEEN: After a frustrating period, Tom Taylor is ready to kick his career back into life with Canterbury in the NPC.

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Tom Taylor doesn't fear the utility tag and is adamant it won't force him to abandon the Crusaders.

A notable omission from the All Blacks wider training group, Taylor appears to have paid the price for being unable to lock down a regular Super Rugby starting spot this year.

Now, barring a stack of injuries, the chances of playing against England next month appear remote.

It's been a difficult season for the 25-year-old who is soon off contract from the Crusaders.

Last year he made his test debut as a first five-eighth, kicking 14 points in the 27-16 win over the Wallabies in Wellington, and later earned two more caps as a substitute against the Aussies and Japan.

But now he is struggling to win regular starts in a specific position for the Crusaders, having been used at fullback, centre and both five-eighths positions.

Some feel first five-eighth is Taylor's best spot and with the Blues losing Chris Noakes at the end of the season their coach John Kirwan must be tempted to try to persuade him to relocate to Auckland.

Former Crusaders playmaker Stephen Brett moved to the Blues because he couldn't get regular starts ahead of Dan Carter and Colin Slade went to the Highlanders before coming back as a replacement for Carter this year.

Taylor, however, doesn't appear likely to drop a bombshell on the Crusaders coaches and say he wants out.

"That stuff [contract negotiations] is just starting to kick in, so I will find out over the next month or so I guess.

"At the moment I am really happy with where I am. I grew up here and have always wanted to be a Crusader and it's a real honour to be a part of this franchise. I want to stick at it.

"There has always been offers in the past to go somewhere else but I feel I want to prove myself here.

"I have talked to the coaches and at the moment the utility role is a really key role. I'm happy to play that ... They [the different positions] all offer different things but I don't really change my game wherever I am."

Following Tyler Bleyendaal - another Crusaders No 10 - in signing for an overseas club doesn't appeal.

Taylor has only started at first-five twice this year, losing the spot to Slade who has subsequently forced his way into the All Blacks' wider training group.

The problem for Taylor is that his chances of starting at first-five for the Crusaders next year are going to be slim because Carter and Slade, both obvious contenders for World Cup places, will be blocking his path.

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Blackadder started Taylor at No 12 on eight occasions last season. In 2012 he started at first-five seven times, forcing Carter to operate at second-five in five of those matches.

"I want to get back in that ABs team and really play well for these guys [the Crusaders]. I have a got of things that I want to do here.

"It's definitely disappointing [not being in the All Blacks]. Certainly I have talked to the coaches and I have just got my plan of what I really need to do to get back in that frame of mind to play that rugby."

- Stuff

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