Edinburgh’s George Taylor turns the other cheek after horror tackle and red card

If one Edinburgh player deserves a bit of luck in this most difficult of seasons it’s George Taylor.
Edinburgh's George Taylor has returned to action after surgery to repair a broken jaw, cheekbone and nose. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNSEdinburgh's George Taylor has returned to action after surgery to repair a broken jaw, cheekbone and nose. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Edinburgh's George Taylor has returned to action after surgery to repair a broken jaw, cheekbone and nose. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

The centre was the victim of a terrible tackle by Scarlets lock Josh Helps in November which left him needing surgery to repair a broken jaw, cheekbone and nose. His attempts at a comeback were cut short in January when he was sent off for a dangerous tackle of his own against Zebre and landed a three-game ban.

He returned in the narrow home defeat by Scarlets last weekend and was looking forward to facing Benetton on Sunday until a positive Covid test in the Italian camp led to the match being postponed.

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It is just one more setback in what has been a trying campaign.

“It’s been difficult. It was one of the worst injuries I’ve had and the red card was not great,” Taylor said.

“One of my biggest concerns was match fitness. Obviously, you can run as much as you want outside but when you come into a game it’s a lot different. It was tested against Scarlets when it was quite a fast, free-flowing game.

“It’s great to be back, I’ve recovered fully from the injury and I’ve got one game under my belt.”

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Richard Cockerill, the Edinburgh coach, described Helps’ tackle on Taylor as “a flying head butt” and “as nasty as you’ll see” and it earned the Scarlets player a red card and a five-week ban.

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It is the second time Taylor has had his jaw broken but the Borderer is remarkably sanguine about the whole business which included an operation to insert a metal plate.

“The surgeon went in in three places,” he explained. “Plated, fixed me up, good to go - levelled my face out a wee bit!

“It wasn’t too bad. Four years ago I broke my jaw fully on the other side and that was six weeks of liquid diet. This was just a small break at the top so my diet wasn’t affected too much, which was a bonus.”

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Any lingering doubts about his return to action were quickly dispelled in the early minutes of the Scarlets game when he got his first tackle under his belt.

“I thought there would be more of a mental block but I didn’t feel like there was,” said Taylor. “Part of that was because of me putting a bit of weight on. Having a bit more size behind me gave me a bit more confidence, especially going into training. And that confidence helped me going into the game.

“The first tackle I did was on that side of the face and one of my first carries came with a brush to that side of my face as well so I was into the game quite quickly and forgot about it after the first minute or so.”

Last week’s loss to Scarlets all but ended Edinburgh’s hopes of a top-three finish but Taylor is adamant that the capital side will not give up without a fight.

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“There are still few games left to play and qualifying for the Champions Cup is still mathematically possible and we’re going for it. There’s a lot still to play for, although Scarlets hindered it a wee bit but it’s not changed our mindset for the rest of the season.”

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