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Thursday August 22, 2013 MYT 8:52:04 AM
Thursday August 22, 2013 MYT 9:03:16 AM
by greg stutchbury
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Tom Taylor thinks having a World Cup winner for a father has certainly not hindered him on his journey to representing the All Blacks, which he will complete in the Rugby Championship clash against Australia on Saturday.
Taylor, who was not even born when his father Warwick played in the victorious 1987 World Cup All Blacks team, was named on Thursday to make his debut at flyhalf for the national side at Wellington Regional Stadium.
Past, current and present All Blacks used to drop by the Taylor house when Tom was growing up, helping him with his game, passing on tips and letting him know what it took to wear the black jersey.
"I suppose it is a little bit different but for me it was just normal to have ex-All Blacks or current All Blacks coming into the house and mucking around with Dad," Taylor told reporters on Thursday.
"I suppose I was lucky to have those people around me to help me or make me feel comfortable."
Taylor was thrust into the starting role after he was called into the squad earlier this week following injuries to Dan Carter (calf), Aaron Cruden (knee) and Beauden Barrett (calf).
It was not the first time he had been called up at the last minute. Last year he was summoned from a holiday in Thailand to join the All Blacks in Britain as injury cover but did not play.
Taylor was something of a left field pick ahead of 10-test All Black Colin Slade by coach Steve Hansen on Thursday, having not played flyhalf this season with Carter and Tyler Bleyendaal occupying the number 10 jersey at the Canterbury Crusaders.
Instead, he spent the majority of the season at inside centre, although he also played at fullback for the seven-times Super Rugby champions.
The 24-year-old has spent most of his life playing flyhalf and the utility value was forced upon him at the Crusaders if he wanted to play at all, he said.
"It's only been the last couple of years that I have played in the midfield but that's just to get on the field," he said. "I'm just happy to be playing to be honest."
Taylor's goalkicking and maturity had been the "swinger" in deciding to allow the uncapped 24-year-old to run the gauntlet in his first test against Australia, Hansen said.
"He's got the skill-set to play there and played there a bit before. At the camps he has slotted in at 12 and 13 and at 10 on occasions.
"So he understood what we were trying to do with our patterns, he's just come in seamlessly.
"We think he has got the maturity and mental ability to cope with what we're asking him to do.
"Perhaps his biggest swinger was that he kicks goals at about 90 percent and we think that's important."
Taylor had contacted his mother late on Wednesday to tell her he had made the starting side, but his teacher father was away on a school ski trip and uncontactable by mobile phone.
"I think he gets back Friday afternoon," Taylor said with a grin. "I was talking to Mum and she sent him a letter through one of the other staff members (because) ... there's no cell phone reception."
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)
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