Jason Taylor started his coaching career on the ultimate high, after taking over the reigns from Brian Smith at Parramatta – Jason Taylor went on to win a stack of games in succession and drag the struggling Eels into the NRL finals series.
Such an explosive start for Taylor, saw him quickly snapped up and upgraded to head coach at South Sydney. Already signed as an assistant for the following year – Taylors success saw him immediately placed ahead of Shaun McRae as bomber was pushed aside and forced to look elsewhere for work.
The good times continued for the hard working Taylor, the Bunnies bristling with talent for the first time in ages and riding the wave of headlines generated from new owners Peter Holmes a Court and Russell Crowe. The Rabbitohs would sneak into the NRL Finals for the first time in 15 years – Taylor guiding the team into a new era and high expectations.
Even the off-season was productive for them, Souths were now an attractive option for players. Suddenly the likes of Craig Wing and Luke Lewis were keenly interested in joining the new globetrotters of the NRL. Things couldn’t be better, overseas exposure, high membership growth and constant headlines – it was perfect.
Even days before the season kicked off, Souths kept their sponsorship asking price high – much higher than other teams and still secured a lucrative deal with the NAB (National Australia Bank) for home sponsorship. They were the envy of the league.
Then the 2008 NRL season started.
It’s almost like someone had a voodoo doll out, pricking and prodding at the helpless Rabbitohs. From the moment they took the field there were problems. Everyone saw what happened to Craig Wing, their star signing immediately injured and shelved for a few months.
Confidence took a hit right away. They lost the hyped match to high profile neighbours the Roosters and their star half was written off.
You know the script, things continued to get worse. After a few more lossess, their young hope Issac Luke was forced to the sidelines with injury. What about Nigel Vagana? No one really knows what happened there. His form was only average earlier in the year, he certainly looked a few yards off the pace – was he asked to sit aside? Did they rest him from first grade, but spare him the humiliation? Only the inner-sanctum really knows. Either way, he returns this week as the Bunnies try their upteenth halves combination.
As it is for the team, time is also critical for Jason Taylor. Amazingly, should the Bunnies continue to remain winless – Souths have no choice but to review his position. For all his work ethic and seemingly bright future, these days NRL is a business and ultimately the buck stops with Jason Taylor.
No one has dared even mention the sacking of Jason Taylor, major media outlets have chosen not to tread on that ground yet. It’s widely known that Souths have been wining and dining the Sydney media and possibly this has something to do with the coach remaining out of the glare?
To Taylors credit, he has not shyed away from the problem. Facing the media recently on the NRL Footy Show on Channel 9 to discuss the siutation and answer questions put to him.
The pressure is still taking its toll on the young Taylor, seeing him run down from the coaches box against the Sharks and give his team an on field gee-up shows just how much he is feeling the heat. While some tried to spin this in a positive light, this was a real step backwards for Jason Taylor. Previously he had shown maturity much beyond his years, by dropping his bundle and desperately approaching his team on the sideline – he immediately drew comparisons with Nathan Brown and the slapping incident. His only previous blemish was the blow up with Michael Hagan at Parramatta Stadium, Taylor unable to resist firing some barbs at the new Eels coach within earshot of the media.
Is it the beginning of the end for Jason Taylor? Quite possibly. In these tough times of NRL – it’s pure business. Should the Bunnies remain winless over the next few weeks, anything is possible. It’s interesting to note the New Zealand media are already calling for a scalp – that shows just how kind the Sydney press have been in recent weeks.
It’s more than D-Day for Souths tonight as they face the might of the Broncos – they need this badly. The only person that would be smiling at the moment would be George Piggins – the former head of Souths would be rubbing his hands with glee as the new owners of Souths stumble at the helm.
Maybe the Bunnies should investigate whos holding that voodoo doll? Is it George Piggins or Nick Politis?