Jason Taylor says the chance to work with outstanding young halves Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses was one of main reasons he went for the Wests Tigers job.
Taylor signed a three-year deal to replace Mick Potter, his first foray into the head coaching role since 2009. A former representative halfback himself, Taylor said he is looking forward to working with arguably the best young halves pairing in the game.
“It’s a big part of why I was really keen about this opportunity,” Taylor told Fairfax Media in his first interview. “I love working with young players and have had some success with that. You don’t need me to tell you how exciting and talented those halves are, I can’t wait.”
While he didn’t want to make any bold predictions about where the club would finish next season, he saw the Tigers as a team on the rise.
“I’m really excited, it’s a big challenge but I feel I’m well and truly ready for it. Everyone can see the potential the Tigers have in terms of the talented youngsters on their roster and some high-quality established players. I’m really looking forward to working with them. I’ll look at the roster in terms of where we think we can get to but there won’t be any rash predictions where we’ll finish.”
As revealed by Fairfax Media on Monday, Taylor will replace Potter as the team’s third coach in four years.
Tigers players were informed of the appointment at a 4pm meeting at Concord Oval. The club also announced Phil Moss as its general manager of football operations. Moss joins the club after successful stints at the Eels and Penrith.
Taylor will return as head coach for the first time since being sacked by the Rabbitohs at the end of 2009. Fairfax Media understands Taylor beat a host of candidates including Anthony Griffin, Nathan Brown, David Kidwell and Todd Payten to replace Mick Potter as coach of the club next season. All five candidates were interviewed last week in front of members of the club’s new-look board.
Tigers chief executive Grant Mayer praised the appointment.
“Phil and Jason embraced all of the criteria that the club set for these roles and knowing that they have shared a strong working relationship in the past, the board and management have great confidence that they will lead the Wests Tigers forward”, Mayer said. “The partnership between Phil and Jason is imperative with both given very clear objectives. Phil will manage the entire football program, with Jason taking on the core coaching responsibilities for the NRL squad. The demands for Head Coaches these days are so diverse that having Phil in the General Manager role will allow Jason to do what he does best.”
After coaching Parramatta and South Sydney, Taylor has spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach of the Roosters. Taylor, who played 86 top grade games for the Magpies before stints with North Sydney, Northern Eagles and Parramatta, went close to returning to the Eels as head coach this year before a late backflip by the club led to Brad Arthur being installed as coach.
Taylor oversaw South Sydney’s return to finals in 2007.
Potter’s two-year stint was engulfed with off-field woes, while on the field the side struggled with an array of injuries.
The Tigers will return to pre-season training on November 3.