Jason Taylor has been promoted from Sydney Roosters under-20s coach to new first-grade coach Trent Robinson's assistant at the club next year.
Fairfax columnist Taylor was among the candidates for the first-grade job following the club's recent sacking of Brian Smith with a year to go on his contract. The club eventually appointed Robinson, who was Smith's assistant when the Roosters made the grand final in 2010 and is currently coaching French team Catalan Dragons in the Super League.
New coaches usually have the freedom to decide whether to retain the existing coaching staff below them or bring in their own choices, which appeared to put the futures of Taylor and others at the club in doubt, but the club's chief executive, Steve Noyce, said yesterday Robinson wanted Taylor as his assistant.
Former Roosters captain Craig Fitzgibbon was on Smith's coaching staff this season, and it is anticipated he will be retained as well. But it is not clear at this stage what his role will involve. It is understood that two other assistants to Smith - his son, Rohan, and Matt Elliott - won't be at the club next year.
Taylor has the under-20s in the finals for the second year in a row. They will play the Warriors in the second semi-final at ANZ Stadium tomorrow night. Taylor has previously coached first grade at South Sydney and Parramatta, and is keen to coach at that level again. This move will position him more prominently for consideration by clubs in the future.
"Trent was keen for 'JT' to be involved," Noyce said. "Trent is obviously in France at the moment, busy with his team over there, but in consultation with our club he has worked through some immediate issues and one of those involved the appointment of Jason. They are both St Gregory's College boys, although a few years apart. We believe they are going to work well together.
"It was a good way for Jason to get back into coaching, with the under-20s here, but he was an ex-first grade coach who was ready and willing to play a part again at that level."
Taylor said today he was enjoying the opportunity with the under-20s and had used the opportunity to test new ideas and further develop his approach to coaching.
"I had some things I was working on at Souths that I was able to continue working on with the under-20s," he said. "I feel like I was able to get that done, so it's been a great experience for me. Now I feel I can move into a fulltime assistant coaching role with a great deal of confidence, so I'm really looking forward to it. I believe I'm now a better coach than I was at Souths."
Fourth-placed Catalan is scheduled to play first-placed Wigan in the first week of the eight-team Super League finals series at 5am tomorrow, Sydney time.
"It would be the icing on the cake for Trent and the Roosters if he could come back as the Super League-winning coach," Noyce said. "But he has already done a great job over there."