Taylor back at No 10 for clash with Stags

GOT HIM: Canterbury fullback Tom Taylor is held in the tackle.
GOT HIM: Canterbury fullback Tom Taylor is held in the tackle.

Canterbury coach Tabai Matson hopes to ignite his backline by shifting Crusader Tom Taylor to first five-eighth for tomorrow's national provincial premiership match against the Southland Stags at Christchurch's AMI Stadium.

Taylor moves from fullback to to his preferred position at pivot where he replaces Tyler Bleyendaal.

“Tyler has played every minute of our campaign so far so this is a good chance to give him a rest and also give Tom a sharpen up in the No 10 jersey," Matson said.

“What needs to be remembered is that he is a first-five and a top-notch one at that and he has shown in the past he can switch into that position very easily."

Taylor's move means wing Johnny McNicholl will get a chance at fullback, a position which should suit his attacking style of play.

The Stags have proved formidable foes to the Canterbury side when playing in the Garden City and the last two encounters in Christchurch have resulted in Southland not only winning but also claiming the Ranfurly Shield.

“When Southland players see a red-and-black jersey they tend to grow an [extra] arm and a leg," Matson said.

“And after two losses to them in Christchurch the last two times we have met here we are expecting them to be enormous again this weekend."

Matson has made several changes to his starting lineup for the match from the win against Waikato in Hamilton.

“This week is all about cementing our position in the top four of the competition but we also see it as a chance to put some planning into motion as well and give a few players an opportunity to get some time in key positions."

A number of injuries to outside backs during the season has seen the inclusion of High School Old Boys stalwart Stephen Gee into the reserves.

An unknown figure at this level of rugby, Gee is a former Canterbury under-19 player and will be more familiar to those who follow the Christchurch club rugby scene having played more than 150 matches for the Old Boys club.

“He was one of the form players of the club season and comes with a glowing recommendation from the coaches of the Canterbury Metro side,"Matson said.

“Stephen is a versatile player who is very strong and also very quick so it's exciting to have him in the mix this week."

Other changes to the lineup for tomorrow's match include Paea Fa'anunu stepping back into the No 1 jersey for Wyatt Crockett who is out with a back injury. Joel Everson gains his second start of the season at lock with Dominic Bird moving to the bench.

Halfbacks Willi Heinz and Andy Ellis continue their job-sharing role with the former gaining the nod this week after two solid performances over the past two weeks. Telusa Veainu will start on the left wing.