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Codie Taylor to miss most of Super Rugby by taking ‘non-playing sabbatical’

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor will miss a majority of next year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign after taking up a “non-playing sabbatical,” the Crusaders confirmed on Thursday.

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Taylor was included in Rob Penney’s first Super Rugby squad in charge of the champion Crusaders, which included the likes of former All Black Ryan Crotty and Welsh international Leigh Halfpenny.

But after the All Blacks’ tough Rugby World Cup campaign, which saw New Zealand fall to rivals South Africa in a thrilling final, Taylor has taken up a clause in his contract to have some time off.

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Unlike the likes of New Zealand captain Sam Cane and World Player of the Year Ardie Savea, Taylor won’t ply his trade overseas. Taylor will take some time off, which is well-deserved.

Crusaders coach Penny said that Taylor has “earned the right” to make the most of some “special” treatment as a new Rugby World Cup cycle gets underway.

“He has probably had the new All Blacks coach (Scott Robertson) in his ear, having a discussion,” Penney told reporters on Thursday.

“And that’s all good. Whatever Codie needs, and those (veteran) boys that have earned the right to be treated a bit more special.

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“We will accommodate anything there.”

Taylor, who won the sport’s ultimate prize with the All Blacks at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, was Ian Foster’s first-choice in the No. 2 jersey during the business end of this year’s tournament.

But before all of that, Taylor played a starring role in the Crusaders’ road to a staggering seventh Super Rugby title in as many years, having scored twice in the final at FMG Stadium.

New Zealand media outlets are reporting that Taylor is expected to return a few weeks before the playoffs, but coach Penney didn’t rule out an early return for the All Blacks enforcer.

“He could get itchy feet,” Penney added. “We will let him do what he needs to do and clear his mind of footy.

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“When he’s back and ready to go, we will welcome him back with open arms.”

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Flankly 16 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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