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Elijah Taylor. Photo by Jeff Lambert (Penrith Panthers)

Penrith back-rower Elijah Taylor has labelled his two years at the Panthers as "torture" due to the massive injury toll he and his club have had to suffer through. 

Not out to criticise the club whatsoever, with the Kiwi international remaining happy at the foot of the mountains, Taylor said the Panthers have been buoyed by their clean bill of health this pre-season.

Speaking from personal experience, Taylor's past two seasons have ended prematurely after tearing his ACL two years ago and breaking his hand late on last season – with the Panthers only just avoiding the wooden spoon in their final game of 2015. 

"It's so big for us not having many injuries. The past two years have been torture. So to have a healthy squad bar a few players, I'm really happy," Taylor told

"We're always hoping for a better season, and we have done a lot of things over that time. We have a healthy squad most importantly, at the beginning of last year we didn't have that luxury. 

"It really raises the standards of training especially when everybody is fit. It gives combinations a lot more time to gel because you're working with everyone everyday, which allows for continuity." 

Happy to play wherever new Panthers coach Anthony Griffin puts him once the season proper rolls around, Taylor will head to the Auckland Nines with his first pre-season since 2011 under his belt.

"This pre-season's been massive for me," Taylor said.

"With there being so much competition in the back row with Bryce Cartwright, Tyrone [Peachey], Trent [Merrin] and the young 20s players coming through, it has really freshened me up. 

"Hopefully we're pushing each other every week to become better players."

Meanwhile Taylor said he moved past the sacking of former coach Ivan Cleary quite quickly when he departed the club in October.

Taylor was coached by Cleary in three of his five seasons of NRL football, during his time at both the Panthers and Warriors, but said the transition from old to new has been "seamless". 

"I was a bit surprised when I found out, but that's footy and that's the way it goes. That's the way footy goes. It's a results-driven business," Taylor said. 

"As a footy player, you just have to keep working at your trade and can't dwell on it.

"The rest of the coaching staff remains so it's been quite seamless, that's the word. 'Hook' [Griffin] has been giving us new game plays and structures to work on which has been refreshing."

This article first appeared on

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Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.