Tiger switch an attacking eye-opener for Elijah
Former Penrith tackling machine Elijah Taylor says his mid-season switch to Concord last year was an eye-opener as he unleashed his rarely-seen attacking skills and he is keen to build on that in 2017.
The hard-working lock spent time at dummy half but was afforded a ball-playing role while in the back row as well, producing three try assists, four line break assists and a try in his 15 games with the Wests Tigers.
Taylor told NRL.com the club's new-look coaching roster under Jason Taylor as well as its trio of gifted young playmakers all encouraged him to get his hands on the ball in attack which has led to a vastly increased enjoyment of his footy since leaving the foot of the mountains.
"When I first met 'JT' and the coaching staff, my first meeting with them, they wanted me to focus on my attack with my passing," Taylor said.
"Their first pitch was leadership and then it was my attack. It was my defence later because they already knew I could do that."
Coming to the end of his first pre-season at the club would help immensely with combinations as well, the forward added.
"I know them all really well now, it's been good to develop relationships with our new coaches and work on our timing and combinations during the off-season," he said.
"The off-season has been very different compared to previous years. Everything we do is game specific. All the training we do when we get flogged, when we have to train hard, it's specific to rugby league; we're not running up sand dunes."
Taylor said the club's game plan was now built around himself and other ball-players in the pack getting involved with the ball in hand.
"They built their game plan around me getting the ball and helping with the structure," he said.
"Last year was a massive eye opener. When you get to play with the ball you have a bit more fun instead of just tackling your ring out.
"It's good for the team too but last year I really enjoyed my footy because I got my hands on the ball and I could ball play. The coaches encourage me to do it and it really opened my eyes to the other side of footy.
"The spine calls all the shots, I just work off them and help out where I can if need be. It's good the halves give me the opportunity to do that.
"All of our forwards can pass and we've really hammered that during the pre-season. Especially with defences so hard to break, that extra little skill factor could change a game."
Fullback James Tedesco – one of the most gifted attacking players in the competition – backed the strategy to get players like Taylor the ball in attack.
"'ET', he acts as another ball player, his passing and the way he can go into the line is as good as and the halves so having him as the lock definitely helps our attack and creates a bit of variety for us," Tedesco told NRL.com.
"The way he's been coaching some of our other back-rowers and locks as well and obviously 'Woodsy' (captain and prop Aaron Woods) can ball play as well so we've got a lot of options there.
"We know our attack can spark, we just need that consistency with our defence so I think that's our big area."