Tay­lor keeps his cool

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Tom Tay­lor was strug­gling to breathe, but not to smile, af­ter com­plet­ing a com­posed All Blacks de­but that spoke as much about char­ac­ter as class.

The tough­est thing about the first five-eighth’s first test wasn’t his first kick at goal or the fact that it missed.

It was weath­er­ing the moun­tain of pub­lic­ity his callup had gen­er­ated dur­ing a week in Welling­ton that seemed to drag on for­ever.

The son of 1987 World Cup mid­fielder War­wick, who grew up in Wa­haroa, and a late in­jury callup, Tay­lor was the only story in town in the buildup to the Bledis­loe Cup re­match at West­pac Sta­dium.

‘‘When I got out on the field, I felt re­laxed and I was think­ing ‘ Why couldn’t it have been like this all week?’,’’ he said as he cra­dled the dam­aged ribs that will side­line him for at least three weeks.

‘‘I’ve been dream­ing about rugby [all week] and it’s prob­a­bly been a bit much, but once I got out there, I felt good.

‘‘Of­ten that’s the worst part, wait­ing for the game. It was very emo­tional. I’ve had a lot of sup­port from back home; it’s been quite over­whelm­ing.

‘‘I’ve been try­ing to pre­tend it’s a nor­mal week but when you’re get­ting texts and Face­book mes­sages com­ing in all the time, it’s hard.

‘‘You try to hide it away. I tried to avoid look­ing at Stuff [web­site] all the time, but it’s just part of it. You have to move on and I tried to fo­cus on the rugby side of it.’’

His ma­tu­rity shone through in the fact that he did not try to do too much, an easy trap for a rookie try­ing to stamp his mark.

Tay­lor ran early but mostly used those around him, par­tic­u­larly sec­ond five- eighth Ma’a Nonu.

There were some clas­si­cal touches as he played link man af­ter he stayed alive in sup­port, and some mon­strous punts.

There was a sound night with the boot – five of eight not do­ing his ac­cu­racy jus­tice with a 53-me­tre ef­fort and a poster among his three misses.

Tay­lor did not strike it well all week but felt re­laxed over the ball. Though he had sec­ond thoughts about his lon­grange at­tempt, he was more than con­fi­dent with the range.

‘‘I know I can kick that far. I didn’t even kick that one [well].’’

Newly se­lected All Black Tom Tay­lor with his fa­ther War­wick who is from Wa­haroa and mother Tracy. Tay­lor made his de­but against Aus­tralia this week­end in Welling­ton.

In ac­tion: Tom Tay­lor kicks a penalty.

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