Tom Taylor of the All Blacks arrives for a recovery session
at Imperial College in London. (Photo by Hannah
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
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
"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
"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
Meanwhile the All Blacks legal advisers are preparing their
case for Andrew Hore's appearance before the IRB's
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.