Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: Taylor's callup - From Thailand to Twickenham

Rocking up at Heathrow Airport in jandals, shorts, singlet and a decent tan, Tom Taylor was an unlikely looking All Black prospect for a run at Twickenham on Sunday.

There is no record of the chat between the immigration officer and Taylor about his reasons for being in Britain but a 'yeah right' remark might have accompanied the officer's passport stamp.

Taylor remains an outside chance for Sunday's test as the medical staff run checks on the fitness of injured five eighths Daniel Carter and Beauden Barrett.

But Taylor's appearance as a utility cover for the All Blacks after two seasons with Canterbury and one with the Crusaders indicates his future prospects.

He has the pedigree as the son of former All Blacks second five eighths Warwick and beside his ability to play first, second and fullback, he is a very accurate goalkicker.

Taylor was on the last day of a fortnight holiday in Phuket, thinking about heading home for Crusaders' training after a month's break since the ITM Cup final.

Meanwhile a few people were trying to locate him in an area of mixed cellphone coverage to tell him to alter his flight to London.

"Then it ended up my girlfriend's dad was knocking on the door about seven o'clock in the morning and I opened the door but had been fast asleep," he recalled.

Instructions to pack his bags and head for London did not sink in at first. But three days later after a cluster of flights and some sleep, Taylor was introduced as the latest member of the All Black squad.

Calls home have his mouthguard, boots and kicking tee on their way to London. Give him two days and he reckons he will be ready to play if needed.

"I will do everything I can to prepare really."

Taylor was ready because he had been keeping up his fitness and had been told earlier he was on standby. He was used to these sorts of shocks in rugby and was ready.

In the past he had not always dealt well with the surprises but he felt ready for this challenge. Even in Phuket, he had kept up a fitness regime, mixing running with swimming and surfing.

"I think as long as you are ready mentally then you can do anything," Taylor said.
His callup shows the growing riches of talented backs in New Zealand who can work as five eighths and cover other positions in the backline.

Some with those multi-skills are Tim Bateman, Lima Sopoaga and Andrew Horrell with not so long ago All Black Colin Slade also due to return to Super rugby next season after a horror injury stretch.

Meanwhile the All Blacks legal advisors are preparing their case for Andrew Hore's appearance before the IRB's independent judiciary.

The hooker has been cited for striking after a second minute incident in last weekend's test when Welsh lock Bradley Davies was injured.

With that issue and Keven Mealamu's troublesome calf injury, Dane Coles is the only available hooker so NZ Maori hooker Hika Elliot has also been drafted into the squad.

- NZ Herald

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