Departing Sale Sharks hooker Tommy Taylor has spoken of his pride in representing his hometown club – but says that now is the time for a new challenge.
Having spent five years representing the club, Macclesfield-born Taylor, 24, is moving to Wasps at the end of this campaign.
With two games left of a season in which Taylor has made his 100th appearance for the Sharks, he believes it’s been a positive one, both personally and for the team.
“We said at the start that with the World Cup, the schedule would be tough, but with a small squad, we’ve done well,” Taylor told MM.
“We’ve beaten some big sides at home and away, which we always target – we’ve had a few slip-ups but that’s what happens over a long season.
“I was very proud to make my 100th appearance for the club a few weeks back, and reflecting on my time here, you go back to your first appearances, stuff like that.
“There’s a few wins that stick out, but we’ve always had a good team philosophy here, so just being part of that environment is just fantastic.”
As a Manchester City fan and local lad, Taylor has become an integral, vocal part of a side whose home form has surely secured a top-five Aviva Premiership finish.
To use a hackneyed footballing cliché, playing away at Sale has become the equivalent of a cold Tuesday night in Stoke, and Taylor says his team-mates cherish that impressive home record.
“We targeted our home form – for the past three or four years, we’ve said we want to be unbeaten at home, which is very hard,” he said.
“Not many people like coming up to Manchester – I don’t know why, it’s a lovely place!
“When teams are confident, it makes it a lot easier to play, so I think going away from home, it’s maybe having that confidence.
“You play on the exact same size pitch, it’s all just a bit of grass, but we’re very proud with the intensity we bring at home, and our record.”
Taylor looks to have helped bring elite European rugby back to Manchester next season, although he will not be there to savour it.
Along with Danny Cipriani, Taylor is making the move down the M6 to Wasps, stating that the stature of the club – rather than the geography – was too much of a draw.
“It was a very difficult decision – it took me a long time, and it’s never been easy, but I think I’ve made it for the right reasons.
“It’s the potential that Wasps have, in the semi-finals of both cups, it’s the big games you play in.
“You’re playing in front of bigger crowds, you’re on TV, stuff like that, that all helps with the England stuff – if you play well.
“But it’s also domestic silverware that you obviously look for, and going there I’ve got a good chance.
“To get England recognition you have got to play well – it could happen at Sale and it could happen at Wasps, so I don’t think you have to move to a southern club.”
So far, Taylor has pulled on the England jersey twice – both against the Barbarians, and finds only Dylan Hartley and Luke Cowan-Dickie ahead of him in the pecking order.
The road from the AJ Bell Stadium to the Ricoh Arena is becoming a familiar one for those with England ambitions, something that Taylor is keen to tap into.
“There’s a lot of young English lads there – Rob Miller, James Gaskell, Elliot Daly, Joe Launchbury, Matt Mullan, quite a few ex-Sale boys there too.
“I’ve seen what they’re looking for in the England environment, and you’ve got to highlight those areas when you’re playing.
“You need to look at what strengths you have compared to your rivals and how to stand out compared to them, and also working on the bits that you’re a bit weaker at, and just hopefully get noticed.
“Having said that, I’ve got to move down there first – it’s all up in the air at the moment – I’ve got no holiday plans at the moment and hopefully I’ll get a house sorted soon!”
Image courtesy of Sale Sharks via YouTube, with thanks.