Glenn Lazarus says Dave Taylor can be Canberra Raiders trump card in NRL finals run
It’s tough to break a brick with eyes but Canberra Raiders legend Glenn Lazarus thinks it’ll be even harder for the Green Machine’s rivals to knock a Coal Train off the tracks.
Lazarus has backed Raiders giant Dave Taylor to make a huge impression in the absence of the suspended Josh Papalii with Canberra’s finals hopes hanging by a thread.
Papalii was suspended for two crucial games against the ladder leading Melbourne Storm and South Sydney following his shoulder charge on St George Illawarra fullback Josh Dugan.
While the pair won’t be a straight swap, Taylor is another big body in the squad and Canberra are counting their lucky stars after he turned in his best effort yet for the Green Machine.
Lazarus says Taylor has some big boots to fill with Papalii dropping out of the side in a crucial do or die period but has backed the former Test player to fire.
Taylor ran for 105 metres and made 13 tackles in a 22-minute stint against the Dragons, but it’s his final touch that Raiders fans will remember most.
Lazarus praised the hulking front-rower for “basically winning it” off his own bat in golden point and expects him to be filled with confidence this weekend.
“We could talk about the shoulder charge rule until we’re blue in the face,” Lazarus said.
“I don’t think they’ve got it right but in Josh’s case he did make contact with the head. It’s not a good time to have Josh on the sidelines through suspension but that’s what they’re going to have to deal with next weekend.
“[Taylor is] a big body and he showed on Friday night that he’s got the skill and all that sort of thing.
“Hopefully he’ll feel better about himself, getting into first grade and basically winning it for the Raiders, and he’ll be a better player.
“He’s a handy player to have at your club. He’s been to a few and unfortunately it hasn’t worked out for one reason or another but he looks like he’s enjoying himself there.
“He’s a great asset to Canberra coming off the bench. If he puts his mind to it he could certainly make a difference.”
Taylor has struggled to string games together after he was earmarked as the potential difference between a preliminary final and a premiership.
The former State of Origin enforcer has battled injury and illness but Lazarus hopes he can rediscover the form that could propel the Raiders on an unlikely run to the finals.
Taylor can give opposition defensive lines nightmares and Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson can’t wait to see him wreak havoc against the Storm on Saturday night.
“He’s a big fella and he knows he has to do – just get the ball and run hard,” Hodgson said.
“He’s such a big bloke, he’s tough to handle. He had a great game for us on the weekend and he’s another one that’s really stepped up when he has needed to and took his chance.
“Especially on the weekend, I thought his repeat efforts were really good and that’s something he’ll be looking to work on again this week.”