Taylor made for centre stage
COVID-19 may have brought the world to a standstill for the past six months, but that didn't stop up-and-coming centre George Taylor from training hard at home in a mission to secure a place in Edinburgh Rugby’s starting XV.
Taylor was back in action on Saturday - coming on as a second-half replacement in the 1872 Cup win over Glasgow Warriors - and looked sharp as ever following175 days without competitive action.
"The boys were awesome on Saturday. We obviously knew it was going to be a tough game, but with the hard work and training we had done in the eights week beforehand, we we were prepped and really ready for the challenge," said Taylor.
"Playing Glasgow first game back was always going to be tough - and they put out a really strong team - but we had one job to do and that was to get the win.
"The boys are over the moon about getting the Semi-Final. We all watched the Munster game on Saturday night and now we just want to repeat that performance this Friday night."
Although the centre will be looking to put his name in the mix for selection when next week's Semi-Final comes around, Taylor believes the full squad will be in confident mood heading into the do-or-die knockout fixture.
"The Semi-Final will be huge for the city and it will really further promote rugby within Edinburgh. What's to say we can't do it and reach a Final. If we continue to play like we have then I think the boys will be in a good place heading into some huge games for the club."
Taylor enjoyed a breakout campaign prior to the season suspension – scoring four tries in 16 appearances – and having constructed a home gym back in the Borders, the 23-year-old didn't miss a beat in the build-up to Saturday's PRO14 restart.
“I moved back home to the Borders when lockdown began. I spent a lot of time working with my dad, so I still had a routine, and was kept busy,” said Taylor.
“Obviously, the real struggle was trying to do gym-work and running sessions, to keep fit on your own – but I quickly got back into it and it soon became normality for me.”
George’s farm work with his dad meant he retained a steady routine, but getting back into rugby was always at the forefront of his mind.
And when Edinburgh returned to competitive training last month, Taylor was quick off the mark to make a run at securing a place in the capital side’s midfield.
“I don’t think it was a struggle,” explained Taylor. “It was more of an excitement to get back. A lot of the guys have missed it.
“Whilst I think I kept myself to a reasonable fitness level, when it comes to actually being with the coaches and doing the exact timings of all the running sessions, then it’s pretty tough – but we’ve gotten back into it pretty quickly.”
The 23-year-old centre also praised his teammates for their dedication to their assigned fitness sessions over lockdown, resulting in a squad that has looked sharper than ever on the training ground.
“To be fair, I think everyone has been doing their sessions during lockdown! No-one really seems to be struggling, and even when we introduced the ball back into sessions, the skill levels are still high, so it was a great starting block going into these games against Glasgow.”
Although the capital club’s squad has remained largely unchanged following the summer’s ins and outs, one position that is perhaps open for discussion is inside centre.
With Scotland international Matt Scott leaving to join Leicester Tigers, the No. 12 jersey is up for grabs and Taylor has backed himself to fill it in the years ahead.
“I think I can claim it, yeah,” declared the centre. “It’s disappointing to see Matt go, because he was such a great asset to the team and we really bounced off each other. He helped me out when he could, but now I’m ready to step up and take the jersey and hold it for as long as I can.”