Wests Tigers lock Elijah Taylor says he will support whichever new coach the club chooses in place of Jason Taylor – including former mentor and current frontrunner Ivan Cleary – but admits he is shocked a team would sack its coach after a four month off-season just three games in.
Jason Taylor was given his marching orders after back-to-back heavy losses to Penrith and Canberra but as Elijah pointed out his former club the Warriors made the 2011 Grand Final after losing their first three games.
Elijah has now gone through the same thing at every club with Brian McLennan at the Warriors, Ivan Cleary at Penrith and now Jason Taylor, but he says seeing a coach sacked in Round 3 is unprecedented.
"The coach has never been sacked Round 3, I've never been in a team like that, this is in a whole different area," Elijah said this week.
"Ivan left Panthers in the off season. 'Bluey' McLennan left the Warriors right at the end of the season... It's definitely disruptive. Round 3, the start of a season, we just finished four months with a coach the whole off season and now as footy players we just have to brush it and move on."
Elijah admitted the team's performances had been unacceptable but stressed the timing of the move to part ways with the coach was the hard part to understand.
"It's only Round 3. We've got another five months of footy to play. I thought it was too early. When I played for the Warriors in 2011 we lost our first three games and made the Grand Final," he said.
Elijah was reluctant to come out too strongly in support of Ivan Cleary, despite the pair's strong relationship, because he did not want to be seen as telling the club what to do. However he was still full of praise for his former Warriors and Panthers mentor.
"[Cleary] gave me my debut opportunity back at the Warriors in 2011… obviously I followed him to Penrith," Elijah said.
"You want to play for him. He's a family man, he puts trust in the players to play what they see and gives freedom for players but again I'm not in control of who chooses the coaches."
Elijah said regardless of what happens at the Tigers, he'd love to see Cleary get another coaching gig at some point.
"He's the type of coach that would fit in anywhere. When he was coaching at the Warriors all three grades were in the grand final on grand final day. It says a lot about his recruitment and how he managed players. I think that's one of his strongest assets was his man management but again I can't choose the coach," he added.
Elijah also admitted plenty of the blame for the ructions had to lie with the players after two dire losses.
"A lot [of the blame] falls to the players. The last two performances haven't been up to par," he said.
"It's not the coach out there dropping balls, it's not the coach out there controlling our energy or missing tackles. That's our job as footy players. Round 3, yeah, Round 3 I thought was a bit early. It caught me off guard big time. We'll see what happens, we'll train hard, all the boys will buy in 100 per cent [to whoever the new coach is]. We have to."