Tayler Adams 2.0 to return to Stags
It will be a more confident, more attacking-minded Tayler Adams who returns to Southland rugby after finding his mojo across the Tasman.
The Melbourne Rebels playmaker has signed on with the Stags for the 2018 season, three years after missing out on a contract and heading to Australia to further his career.
Now 24, Adams first made his debut for Southland as an 18-year-old in 2012 after brothers Jimmy and Scott Cowan had headed overseas.
He went onto play 24 times over two-and-a-half seasons, representing New Zealand at under 20 level and winning the 2015 Galbraith Shield with Star, all while calling Southland home.
“I don’t think I really made my mark, so it’s exciting times to come back and give it another crack,” Adams said.
“Hopefully I can help the team rebuild with some of the younger talent coming through.”
Adams, who led his Kelston Boys’ first XV to a national title in 2011, has rediscovered the form which marked him out as such a bright talent early on, being named the best player in Sydney’s premier club competition last year and earning a Super Rugby call up with the Rebels for 2018.
A shift from halfback to first-five has provided the catalyst for Adams’ career revival, aided by the mentoring of former Melbourne Rebels assistant coach Todd Louden, who has guided him at the West Harbour Pirates.
“Todd has played a lot of nine and 10 and is a position-specific coach, and he has really helped me. He has coached at Super Rugby level and really knows what he’s talking about. Over the past year and a half I’ve started to feel really comfortable at 10,” he said.
“The positional change has brought me more into the game, I’m a lot more involved and thinking a lot more about what I’m doing. It’s been a mindset change that I need to take charge rather than rely on other people to do that.”
Adams describes himself as an attacking-minded first-five, comfortable with running the cutter. While he can still play halfback if required, he now sees himself as a No 10 who can also run at fullback.
Coming back to Invercargill is something Adams is relishing.
“I was there for three-and-a-half years pretty much and I know Invercargill well. It makes it a bit easier knowing that I’m coming back to people that I know, a club competition that I’m familiar with. It’s my second home and the place that gave me my first opportunity to play semi-professional rugby.”
Stags coach Dave Hewett expects Adams to make an easy transition back into the Southland environment.
“The experience of moving away and having some time in Aussie has grown him from a rugby point of view, and probably from a personal point of view as well, so we are really excited to have him back in the mix.”
Hewett will be asking Adams to not only run the Stags backline when he’s in the No 10 jersey, but also provide guidance to a number of developing first-fives in the region.
“Tayler, having trained and played at Super level, will have experience at making decisions under pressure.”
While Adams has been keen to learn during his rookie season with the Rebels, he has also had some game time with the Melbourne side.
He’s expected to join the Stags once the Rebels, currently second in the Australian conference behind the Waratahs but with a potentially easier run into the finals, end their campaign.
“I’m in dialogue with Dave Wessels, the Rebels coach, and we will keep in contact with when Tayler’s available to come over,” Hewett said.