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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Hooker Taylor made for age-old battle with Ireland's Best

Codie Taylor
Codie Taylor

It wasn't that long ago Dane Coles was rightly marketed as the best in the world.

Now 31, the Hurricanes hooker has been a victim of more than one concussion and missed all of the 2018 Super Rugby season with a cruciate ligament injury.

In the meantime, Codie Taylor has rolled right off the Crusaders conveyor belt to give New Zealand a bigger man in the set-piece scrum and maul.

Just as questions are swirling around about the form of Ireland captain, Taylor will be keen to show 36-year-old Rory Best that this is a young man's game.

"He's a great player," said the 27-year-old of the Ulsterman.

"Jeez, I would be lucky to be tying my laces at 36. It's pretty unreal to see him still playing at the highest level in world rugby.

"He does have a very physical, close-encounter game.

"It's different to our role in the All Blacks and what we try and do as hookers.

"At the same time, to be able to do that stuff, is gold as well."

Well, silver means nothing in this game. There are no prizes for coming second.

"We respect what the Irish have done in the last couple of years, in terms of changing their game and being a real threat in world rugby. "It's going to be a bloody physical battle and it will be won up front. That is what we expect," said Taylor.

The Irish may have been flattered by the demolition job done on Argentina, given how their coach Mario Ledesma pointed out the Pumas were missing their four best props.

"Their scrum, they turn it on, they've got world-class front rowers and locks. They're strong," said Taylor.

"It was a weapon, definitely.

"They really put Argentina under pressure.

"The physical battle up front in the forward pack is something you have to turn up for, especially against an Irish team."

There is a lot more to consider outside of the scrum, of course, and it is in the collisions that the game could be won or lost.

This is where the beauty of being a small country, like New Zealand, comes into the equation.

"I just think they're a great unit," said Taylor.

"From one-to-eight, whoever is on the field, they know each other really well.

"They've got a really good core and leaders around their forward pack.

"They've got a lot of threats, even their lineout they've got a lot of good players."

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