Culhane mentors promising player

Blues first five-eighth Mitch Taylor during a Southland premier club rugby fixture this year.

MITCH Taylor has landed himself with an ideal mentor, as the 20-year-old first five-eighth continues to knock his rugby game into shape.

Taylor is regarded as one of Southland rugby’s more promising prospects and the hope is the former Southland Boys’ High School pupil can one day lead the Stags around the field at Mitre 10 Cup level.

After leaving school in 2016, Taylor headed to Christchurch to play and study last year.

However, Rugby Southland remained in touch and late last year signed Taylor for two years to ensure he linked back up with its academy programme.

Taylor has joined the Blues club and is finding his feet in his first season playing in Southland’s premier club competition.

To help with his progress, Blues stalwart Simon Culhane, a former All Black first five-eighth and Stags coach, has been on hand to offer Taylor advice in a mentoring-type role.

“You can’t ask for much more than having an All Black to learn from. He has been really good to me, offering his time to help me out,” Taylor said.

Taylor hails from the Central Southland town of Drummond, where he progressed through the age-group ranks. He also helped Southland Boys’ to the 2016 South Island secondary schools title.

When Taylor departed for Christchurch the plan was to one day return to Southland. He just didn’t expect the return would happen so soon.

“I loved it up in Christchurch, the rugby was unreal there. But I’ve always wanted to play for the Stags, that has always been the dream, that is why I came back. Hopefully I can keep improving and it can happen.”

Taylor felt the biggest area he needed to add to his game was maturity.

He acknowledged he could be easily excited on the field and his youthful enthusiasm often kicked in when maybe he should be thinking a little clearer.

“It is just making sure I’m making good decisions and I’m able to help close a game out,” he said.

Another big attraction to join the Blues club this year was the opportunity to play alongside halfback Jay Renton. The pair formed a good combination at Southland Boys’ High School.

Fellow former Southland Boys’ team-mates Ethan de Groot and Ben Paulin have also joined Taylor at Blues and the trio are also now flatting together.

“We are really good mates, we all get on well. So I think that has been a big thing for us.”

Blues have been the big improver in 2018, winning six of their nine games so far this season.

Their next assignment is tonight when they will take on Woodlands, at Woodlands.

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