AFL star wants lifeline after girlfriend assault

Former AFL player Elijah Taylor has spoken for the first time about hitting rock bottom after pleading guilty to assaulting his girlfriend.

Disgraced former AFL star Elijah Taylor has spoken up about his off-field regrets and his hopes of one day playing professional footy again.

Taylor, 19, was cut loose by the Sydney Swans last year after he pleaded guilty to assaulting ex-girlfriend Lekahni Pearce.

The teenager was fined $5000 over the domestic violent incident, during which he “lost his self-control” and hit Pearce with a belt in a Perth hotel room in September.

That came after he copped a mid-season ban for breaking COVID-19 restrictions while Sydney quarantined in a Perth hub.

Taylor has only played four AFL games and the Swans dropped him less than a year after being drafted.

He knows he faces a long road back to earn people’s forgiveness and respect, and is under no illusion he may have thrown his football career away for good. But he’s intent on returning to the WAFL this season in the hopes of securing another stint at the top level.

“I felt really down about it and blame myself for what happened and I know it was wrong,” Taylor told The West Australian.

“It was tough. Afterwards I was feeling pretty low about myself for a couple of months and didn’t want to come back to footy.

“I just got lazy and started sleeping like 12, 14 hours a day. It was a pretty bad time for me but I … decided to give footy another chance and it’s been good so far. I know it’s going to be a long road for that to happen but I’m willing to do anything just to be where I was in the AFL.

“I’ll probably have to work twice as hard as I did when I was younger but I’m willing to do whatever it takes.

“I’ve learnt from my mistakes, I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”

Taylor wasn’t sure whether he wanted to play footy again after hitting rock bottom because of his off-field mistakes, but came to the realisation he feels happiest on the field so is determined to give it another crack.

Perth Magistrates Court heard in December Taylor had been out the night before he assaulted Pearce when he ran into her at a nightclub and they went back to the hotel. Taylor woke up the next morning to Pearce hitting him after she saw a Snapchat message from another woman.

He then repeatedly punched her and hit her across the back with a belt. At one point during the attack, Taylor told her: “You’re not going anywhere.”

His lawyer Seamus Rafferty said Taylor had been under pressure in the lead-up to the incident – including struggling with his AFL suspension for breaching WA’s quarantine laws and the media attention that came with it – but entirely accepted blame for the attack.

“He was not the person who started the aggressive behaviour,” Mr Rafferty said. “Basically, he lost his self-control.

“This kid just wanted to crawl under a rock and then his whole world came crashing down.”

With NCA Newswire

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