Elijah Taylor wants to see, and hear, more of the impressive atmospheres that have been created at matches throughout Rugby League World Cup 2013 as his New Zealand side look ahead to their quarter-final clash with Scotland at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Friday (8.00pm).
In their last Group B match, the Kiwis beat Papua New Guinea in front of over 18,000 vociferous fans at Headingley, and Taylor, who admits that the Australian domestic NRL competition is not blessed with such atmospheres, wants more of the same for a tough-looking match against Scotland.
“We don’t get that back in the NRL, as vocal-a-crowd as like Headingley,” said Taylor. “Hopefully the fans turn out this Friday night as well to support both teams again. It was a really good crowd and the boys are really thankful.
“Scotland’s whole spine is outstanding. Ian Henderson used to be a former New Zealand Warrior and in my first year in First Grade, I was his training partner. He is a tough bloke and a smart footballer.
“If you watched them against Italy, their halves were kicking really early so we have got to be prepared for that. It will be a good challenge playing against Scotland.”
The Kiwis breezed through their group, scoring 146 points in three games, though Taylor believes that his side is starting to step-up ahead of the tournament’s knock-out stages, as New Zealand look to defend their World Cup title.
“I know the intensity has picked up a little bit,” said Taylor. “The boys have trained well since we have been here and they have trained hard. We had a hard training session last night so nobody is taking anything for granted.
“We have to control what we can control, and that is what takes place on the footy field, practising well and getting execution up to standard. The more time on the field we do have, the more time we can gel and work on combinations.
“The kind of training we have been doing is really hard, it is surprising what two weeks off can do to your fitness but you get it back really quick and it is something that never goes away if you keep on top of it.
“Whatever 17 we put out, all the boys are behind them. There is so much depth in the squad, and it is quality depth, that even the people who miss out on the squad have experience at Test level, so whatever 17 plays, it has got the rest of the boys behind it.
“I have always been a utility player all of my career so I am more than willing to put my hand up for whatever position or task the coach sets me and do the best for my country and do the best that I can for the jersey.”
New Zealand head coach Stephen Kearney has named his 19 man squad to play Scotland at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Friday (20:00)
Sonny Bill Williams