Taylor guilty of fun and games
The Gold Coast is marketed as being "famous for fun" but Titans back-rower Dave Taylor insists he has learnt first-hand that the adage of "too much of a good thing" does hold true.
Despite being limited by a troublesome calf complaint, Taylor insists he is the lightest he's been since 2006 and promised teammates and Titans fans that in 2014 his focus will be wholly and solely on rugby league.
Taylor left South Sydney in order to be closer to friends and family in south-east Queensland and admitted that having them close at hand distracted him from the job he was recruited to do.
"I got a little bit excited moving to the Gold Coast with family and friends around me and drifting off a little bit with the family side of things instead of concentrating 100 per cent on footy," Taylor conceded. "This year I've put a lot of that to the side and I'm concentrating a lot more on footy.
"There were a couple of times [last year] where I stood out of line but I copped everything on the chin and moved forward. It definitely put me in a better shape heading into this year, knowing my boundaries."
While he may have had too much fun off the field in 2013, Taylor also believes that taking a more carefree approach onto the footy field enabled him to recapture the type of form that the rugby league world has witnessed sporadically over the past eight seasons.
When the Titans knocked over the Roosters in Round 25 Taylor contributed 215 running metres from 21 hit-ups (both personal highs for the season), a try, a line-break and two offloads. A week later against the Storm he made 191m, a season-high 35 tackles and laid on two tries.
Delivering those sorts of numbers is a sure way to enjoy your football more and Taylor said focusing on fun rather than things such as representative honours is the key to playing his best football on a more consistent basis in 2014.
"I'm just going to have fun this year and I'm not going to say that this is my year to play Origin or this is my year to play for Australia, I'm just going to go out and have fun with my teammates here," the 25-year-old said.
"Knowing we had a little chance [to make the finals] but just playing fun football and enjoying myself and not really worrying about the final score and having fun, that definitely helped me to play better footy."
Having been confined to the oxygen-deprived altitude chamber for much of the pre-season to date while the Titans medical staff manage his misbehaving calf, Taylor was delighted to be back outside on the training paddock and hasn't given up hope on lining up for the Titans in the Auckland Nines in three weeks time.
"That's three or four weeks away now but I'd love to play in the Nines," said Taylor, who at $306,300 is the Titans' fourth-highest priced player in this year's Holden NRL Fantasy. "That'd be an awesome tournament to play in but I've just got to get my body right and make sure I'm right for the season and not just a trial match.
"I think [the Nines] is quite fitting for me, somebody who loves to pass the ball around and kick the ball and what-not but the little fellas might get me a little bit, only having nine on the field.
"A bit of footwork and I might be a target so I'll be out of breath I reckon."