DAVE Taylor may be benefiting from living closer to his family, but make no mistake, the advantage to his game by playing with the Titans was the reason he shifted to the Gold Coast.
He may now have babysitters on call whenever he needs them, but the opportunity to play with Nate Myles, Ashley Harrison and Greg Bird was all Taylor needed to pack up his family and head back to Queensland.
“Nate and Ash and ‘Birdy’ and just the forwards they’ve got there is just unbelievable. What they’ve done with their careers and how far they’ve gone... it’s just great to be able to be learning from those guys, that’s definitely one of (the reasons for coming),” Taylor says. “Being around those guys is only going to help my career. Definitely, a pretty easy decision once I sat down and thought about it all.”
Though he’s only come off the bench so far for the Titans he’s still averaged close to 80 metres and made 22 tackles per game. It’s a new approach to his game: Focus on getting the little things right and the rest will come. Even his diet has had an overhaul courtesy of his new club. Though his weight in 2013 is listed officially at 123 kilograms – one kilo heavier than in 2012 – Taylor says he’s feeling better than ever, and his coach agrees.
“We’ve got to balance getting plenty of footy into him while making sure he’s as fresh as he can be,” John Cartwright says of his new recruit.
“He’s the lightest he’s ever been – he’s lost six kilograms since he’s been with us. I think he played last year at about 125 and he’s at 120 now. I don’t think we can get any more weight off him now – his skin folds are very low – as low as anyone’s in the club – so there’s not a lot of weight to lose.”
Not long after Taylor had arrived at Titans base camp, Myles and Harrison put their first touches on his game that you can already see coming to the fore. It had nothing to do with quick play-the-balls or winning the ruck, more the simple art of how he takes his coffee that has helped shed those extra kilos.
“For example having coffees, how much milk’s in the coffee. I’ve cut out a lot of milk from my diet,” he explains. “I have four or five coffees a day and having all that milk was just a bad part of my diet, so as soon as I started cutting them out and having coffees without milk, it’s definitely shown.
“It was something they’d (Myles and Harrison) noticed. It was good to have those boys there and looking out for me and my best interests in the game. Definitely I’m going to put the team first and it’s something I want to do this year… as well as knocking the milky coffees on the head.”
Taylor expects simply being around players of that calibre, who have taken their careers to the greatest heights in recent times, will rub off on his own game. Though he has six Queensland caps from 2010-12, consistency representing his state has been something he’s struggled with. He figures taking in what he can learn from his well-credentialed team-mates and not focusing on selection means he’ll play his best for his club, and representative honours will naturally follow.
“It’s just amazing having them there and you can learn so much from those guys from what they do for their side,” the 24-year-old says on the eve of his 115th NRL game. “Last year you saw how good Nate was and if I can just take a little bit out of his book I’ll be a happy bloke.
“I’m focusing this year and not thinking about Origin and everything that goes with it. I’m just going to focus solely on club level and playing the best football I can for the Titans and I think if I do that I’ll put myself in a good spot to play Origin.
“State of Origin is my biggest love of footy and there’s nothing that compares to State of Origin in my eyes. It would be a great honour just to be able to put the jersey back on again. But like I said I’m just going to focus on playing for the Titans now and focus all my energy on that and not try to get side-tracked by talking about State of Origin. I just need to play good, consistent football for the Titans and I believe once I start doing that then it’ll all come together.”