If you’re good enough you’re old enough. At least that’s how the old adage goes.
With Michael Luck out for up to eight weeks with a partially dislocated patella, the Hawera born Elijah Taylor has a big job to do as his replacement.
To some it would have come as a shock when Coach Ivan Cleary named Taylor in Luck’s lock position for the Warriors encounter tomorrow night with the North Queensland Cowboys instead of a more experienced teammate such as Simon Mannering.
Luck manages week in week out to accumulate somewhere in the vicinity of fifty to sixty tackles an outing. Lately, he has even displayed some attacking chops, too.
The workaholic in Luck just doesn’t stop. A rare specimen he is. Much like the eveready bunny, he just keeps on going and going...and going. It was somewhat surprising, then, that the battery suffered damage against the West Tigers last Sunday.
So, can Taylor mimic his senior workhorse’s workload in the suffocating heat that Townsville is renowned for?
Doubtless, he will give it a mighty effort. Thirty-five tackles he has been averaging in his ten appearances thus far in 2011. Only twenty off of what Luck achieves.
Whether this allows his attacking game to flourish remains to be seen. Not that it really matters, though. Others such as Feleti Mateo can attend to any attacking opportunities that may come the Warriors way. Taylor can best contribute to that attack by increasing his defensive workload.
And surely that is all in the head. Within reason, if he believes he can achieve, he will. And make no mistake about it, with his side having suffered two consecutive defeats, a lot rests on his twenty-one year old shoulders.
Luckily though, he seems to have an old head presiding over those young shoulders.
It was there for all to see earlier this season against the Sydney Roosters. With Taylor charging his way to the opposition in-goal zone, he was partially tackled by two Roosters who then fell off him. Rising to his feet, Taylor simply took off and dotted down for the try. Others would have looked around for guidance from the referees to see if they had deemed the tackle complete.
Not Taylor though. Not only is he quick on his feet but also possesses quickness of mind which is rare for someone so young. Maybe, then, the Warriors have found themselves a future captain.
For now though, he can lead by elevating his performance to a loftier altitude and the rarefied air of fifty tackles. It’s a challenge for the young man, that's to be sure, but a backward step to that goal he need not take.
For lily-livered, Taylor is not.
After all, there is a reason Ivan Cleary penned his name into the position of lock. And it wasn’t to writhe his way out of a hard nights work.
Not that Taylor would want it any other way.
And this means we’re all about to see if Elijah Taylor is old enough.