The Press

ABs front row, lock it in


Codie Taylor is poised to re-sign with NZ Rugby, joining a bundle of other front rowers locked into deals through to the 2019 World Cup.

Positive feedback during contract negotiatio­ns mean hooker Taylor, who started all three tests in the 1-1 series draw with the British and Irish Lions while Dane Coles was recovering from concussion, should add to his 19 caps with the All Blacks beyond this season. He is also set to remain with the Crusaders.

‘‘I am still going through that process but I think we will come to an agreement within the next couple of weeks,’’ Taylor, 26, said.

‘‘It is all looking pretty good for me, and I am really keen to stay on board with NZ Rugby and just keep pushing my case.’’

Taylor’s desire to remain in New Zealand means the All Blacks should have a deep pool of front rowers to call upon ahead of the global tournament in Japan.

Hookers Liam Coltman and Coles are contracted to 2019, as are props Owen Franks and Joe Moody. Loosehead specialist Wyatt Crockett, a regular substitute for Moody in the tests, is committed until 2018. Nepo Laulala and Kane Hames have both signed deals through to 2020.

This week All Blacks and Crusaders midfielder Ryan Crotty confirmed he has signed a one-year deal, but Malakai Fekitoa appears poised to leave and join wealthy French club Toulon.

This week Taylor returned to active duty for the Crusaders, and will start the Super Rugby quarterfin­al against the Highlander­s in Christchur­ch on Saturday night. Coach Scott Robertson elected rest Moody, Taylor and to Franks prior to their 31-22 loss to the Hurricanes last weekend, having heeded medical advice about player welfare after they had been put through the grinder during the Lions series.

Usually front rowers get substitute­d around the one-hour mark but Taylor averaged 71 minutes a game prior to being replaced by Nathan Harris.

He clocked-up a maximum of 79 minutes in the second test in Wellington as the 14-man All Blacks side tried to stay in the contest before losing 21-18.

Taylor had to have pain killer injections in the rib cage area during the series to ensure he wasn’t in discomfort.

‘‘At that time I was under a bit of strife with the old carcasse, but I am good now. Just rearing to go.’’

The Crusaders couldn’t blame the absence of their powerful front row for their loss to the Hurricanes, which cost them the minor premiershi­p, with a string of penalties and turnovers conspiring against them.

Taylor, who had also made 12 appearance­s for the Crusaders before the test window and started against Samoa prior to the Lions series, recognised the need to have a break and noted he was still feeling the effects of the third test after returning to Christchur­ch.

‘‘The body was still a bit sore on Tuesday, so the body was still just catching up.’’

 ?? PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES ?? Codie Taylor pictured celebratin­g his try against the British and Irish Lions in the first test in Auckland.
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES Codie Taylor pictured celebratin­g his try against the British and Irish Lions in the first test in Auckland.

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