Taylor took the reigns at Concord in the lead up to the 2015 NRL season, holding the clipboard for a total of 51 games with the club. He’s picked up 20 wins with the club while dropping 31 matches, but Taylor’s Tiger career won’t be defined by how many games he won.
The coach made the tough call late last season to drop former captain Robbie Farah to NSW Cup, eventually releasing the international rake to South Sydney, a feud lasting longer than twelve months in Campbelltown. Taylor didn’t like the control Farah had at the club and made the call not many coaches would have the guts to do.
Wests Tigers opened the season with a bang this year, thumping South Sydney in the opening round 34-18, putting Jason Taylor both 1-0 on the ladder, and 1-0 against Robbie Farah. But back-to-back losses to Penrith and Canberra will finally see the guillotine drop on Taylor, but how is that fair?
South Sydney, coming off a shocking 2016, lost skipper Greg Inglis to an ACL rupture during the match, were no hope against the Tigers. But they didn’t carry the expectations or roster that both Canberra and Penrith possess.
Both clubs made the finals last season, with many expecting the clubs to finish in the top four this year. They are some of the most elite sides in the competition. Yes, the losses were heavy. But it’s only the third round. The competition is already shaping up to be the closest in over forty years, surely the man deserves more time.
The club confirmed his immediate termination on Monday afternoon, with chairman Marina Go stating the decision wasn’t an easy choice, but the right one.
“Our position has always been to make sure that the Head Coach’s contract is tied to performance and that hasn’t changed. We are committed to building a side that will be in a position to win NRL Premierships and believe that this decision is the correct one for the future of the club,” she said.
Since taking over the club two years ago, Taylor has overseen the meteoric rise of both James Tedesco and Mitchell Moses, implemented Aaron Woods as the club’s new captain, saw the team fall one win short of a finals berth, and sacked a legend of the team in the means of improving it.
The Wests Tigers were a mess when Taylor stepped in. Sure, they’re still not the strongest club around, but Taylor has cleaned out so much mess from Leichardt, he deserves better than to be booted after a handful of weeks.
Robbie Farah is one man sure to have a sly smile on his face today, however. While the coach won the battle of the first round, Farah appears to have won the war, with his rival being sacked just days after the hooker played his 250th NRL match.
Assistant coach Andrew Webster has been named the interim coach, with Ivan Cleary and Todd Payton the first names put forward to take the reigns at the club. The urgency to name a new coach will be crucial, with the entirety of Wests’ big four off-contract this season.
Jason Taylor was never the most successful coach, but he was one of the gutsiest. He just didn’t deserve to be booted, at least not just yet.