A humble Elijah Taylor says he never saw his 2017 Player of the Year Award coming as he was presented with the Kelly-Barnes Award at last night's awards night.
The hard-working forward said he was so unexpecting of the award that at the the time his name was read out, he was twirling the string from a water bottle around his right index finger.
That string would still be on his hand as he walked up to receive the award.
Just last year, the former New Zealand Test forward was sitting in reserve-grade at the Penrith Panthers — unable to crack the first team despite his excellent form at the time.
He was thrown a lifeline by Wests Tigers, and says he's never looked back.
"“I’m really grateful for Wests Tigers for giving me that opportunity last year,” he said.
“Everybody behind the scenes has done so much to help that."
Taylor also recently extended his contract at Wests Tigers until the end of 2020, and said the chance to work with Head Coach Ivan Cleary again was a big factor behind his re-signing.
“It’s been awesome to work with Ivan again," he said.
"He’s an experienced coach who's been in the position that we are at the moment when he was at the Warriors and the Panthers, and he’s turned them both around.
“The last time the New Zealand Warriors were in the Grand Final was when Ivan was Coach, and that says a lot — especially with the Warriors’ roster and the talen they've had since.
“He’s easy to talk to. He’s real, and he’s not all about footy or too much one way.
“I know next season will be successful. The future looks very bright for Wests Tigers.”
See what Elijah Taylor had to say in full about winning the Kelly-Barnes Award above!