Taylor keeps his cool
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.