Taylor aims to take flight with Red Devils

Players often talk about making a fresh start when landing in a new country, but rarely could that have been more relevant than for Elijah Taylor at Salford.

The 30-year-old loose forward has made over 180 NRL appearances with Wests Tigers, Penrith Panthers and New Zealand Warriors.

But during that time his then manager Ian Miles was using a business account of Taylor’s to spend money on overseas holidays, gifts for his wife, motorbikes, restaurants, clothing and furniture.

Miles was found to have made 937 unauthorised transactions over a four-year period by a New Zealand High Court judge when details of the case emerged in late December.

Along with damages and fines, Miles was ordered to repay Taylor almost £200,000, although he declared bankruptcy two weeks earlier and is not expected to meet those payments.

It’s a saga that played out for four years out of the public eye before it reached court, and one that Taylor is glad to have put behind him.

“It was a massive shock when I first found out and extremely disappointing,” Taylor explained.

“It took from 2017 to last year just to get it to court and was always at the back of my mind, even though nobody else knew.

“It’s been good to get out of Sydney and start a new chapter of my life.”

That will come with the ambitious Red Devils, who have already impressed the New Zealand international since he landed in this country earlier this month.

“I spoke to Tommy Leuluai and Suaia Matagi, and they said that Salford are a club that’s on the rise and have played in some big games of late,” Taylor said.

“I think I can help the club and the team and that’s the challenge I’ve come here for.

“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity. It’s not one of the traditionally big clubs but hopefully we can consistently be making finals.

“ I can’t wait to work with Rich (Marshall), he’s a great young coach.

“There are a lot of young players here that hopefully I can pass my experience on to and provide some leadership.

“Salford have a strong team and a great coaching and medical staff, which these days is vital for the success of a football club.

“There’s good leadership at the club in Ian Blease, and there’s a group of hard working lads.

“We’re going through pre-season now and they are long days and extremely hard. In fact it’s probably harder than what the Tigers’ training was.”

Off the field, Taylor recently completed his commercial pilot training, meaning that he could actually fly the Red Devils to play the Catalans this season, although he says there have been no such offers yet.

He said: “It took me 15 months to go from not flying at all to being a fully qualified commercial pilot.

“After training at the Tigers I would go home and study by myself, and whenever I had a day off I’d clock the hours up.

“The flying is the easy part, it’s the exams and performance charts that are really difficult, and there’s a lot of air law and heaps about the weather.

“There were seven exams I needed to pass and it was a grind at times, but I’m glad I’ve finished now.

“The plan is to be a commercial pilot once I’ve finished playing, although it’s probably not the best time at the moment because, with Covid, the industry has been crippled.”

Back on the playing front, Taylor admits that selection for the New Zealand World Cup squad under his Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire is definitely a target, but he has more pressing goals first.

He added: “Playing for the Kiwis is always at the back of my mind because it’s the pinnacle, I love pulling on the black jersey and doing the haka.

“I’m not sure how the Kiwi selectors will look at it, so we’ll see. But first I’m setting my sights on my first game at Salford and earning my team-mates’ and coaching staff’s respect.”

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