Andre Taylor has been thinking, perhaps too much. Now it's time to start playing.
Talked up as a potential All Black last year, the fullback can't even crack the Hurricanes' starting lineup right now.
The linebreaks and tries that highlighted his performances in 2012 have been replaced by indecision and shaky handling, leaving Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett little option but to give Taylor a spell on the bench.
Taylor said he hated sitting there when the Hurricanes played the Highlanders on March 15, adding that "I'm going to fix that pretty smartly".
When he did get an opportunity in that match, Taylor achieved little on attack, but did pull off one memorable tackle on Highlanders midfield back Jason Emery.
Taylor believes it was the spark his season needed and will hopefully get him back in the Hurricanes' starting XV for Saturday's match against the Southern Kings.
"Against the Highlanders I came on and played how I played last year. Just making a decision and going with it is probably the best thing for me personally and the way I play," he said yesterday.
"I've pulled out of the [Hurricanes'] strategy group so I can just focus on getting that form back."
Taylor readily concedes his hands haven't been good this year but doesn't rate his form as disastrous just because some of the brilliance has gone out of his game.
It clearly troubles him though, especially the handling. So Taylor's cleared the decks, ducking out of the strategy group and letting wing Julian Savea make all the on-field calls for the back three in an effort to free his mind of clutter.
He also denied heaping too much pressure on himself in an effort to force his way into the All Blacks frame.
"I've told all the media I'm not worried about the ABs this year. I got excited last year, with everything that was going on, and obviously I didn't make nothing and I got on a real down buzz.
"So this year I've been trying to focus on the Hurricanes and that's it.
"Nothing else is going through my mind at the moment, there's just a few individual errors that I need to tidy up."
Taylor's performance against the Highlanders heartened Hammett, although it didn't automatically mean he would start this Saturday.
"I thought he was outstanding when he came on," Hammett said.
"He made a huge impact . . . probably more so with his bravery on defence and some of that niggle around the tight spots."
One player who sounds destined to start is flanker Ardie Savea.
With his suspension for a lifting tackle over, Savea played two games for the Hurricanes development team during the bye week and impressed Hammett.
Hooker Dane Coles (ankle) and prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (sternum) have recovered well from their injuries and may also be in the selection mix.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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