Elijah to finally play in Townsville
THE test match against Australia in Townsville on Saturday night will be an emotional occasion for Kiwis utility Elijah Taylor, but you wouldn't think so after talking to him.
Taylor answered questions from reporters yesterday with a smile, even the one about the last time he was set to play at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
In August, the 22-year-old was on his way north to face the Cowboys before hearing his father Ron had passed away.
Taylor made his Kiwis debut in last year's Four Nations tournament, but because the games were in England his dad never got the chance to see his son represent New Zealand in the flesh.
"He never got to see me playing live for the Kiwis. It was a tough time; it was a tough season actually, especially the (Warriors') on-field performances," Taylor said.
"So to be selected to play for the Kiwis and represent my country, it puts a smile on my face."
Taylor was forced to play the majority of last season at lock for the Warriors to cover for the injury-plagued Micheal Luck.
And in just his second season, he did so admirably.
He made 908 tackles and missed only that Cowboys fixture to grieve the loss of his father, before the Warriors finished a disappointing 14th.
Taylor missed out on April's Anzac Test against the Kangaroos, with Nathan Fien playing his final game as a Kiwi in that encounter.
With Aaron Heremaia and Lance Hohaia playing in the UK Super League, Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney had no problem calling up Taylor as the back-up to starting hooker Issac Luke for the Townsville clash.
Co-incidentally, Luke and Taylor both come from the town of Hawera, where a career in either of the rugby codes is seen as the best way to get a ticket out of town.
While he hates being dragged off for a spell, Luke said it was "pretty cool" that Taylor had been chosen as his back-up.
"I am not a big fan of coming off. But they (the coaches) see more than what I feel out there," Luke said.
Taylor said he understood Luke could play the entire match and was prepared to play anywhere.
"I'm going to be prepared for anything. It could be back-row, it could be in the middle," he said.