Taylor battles his attacking urges
Getting noticed in the school playground is nothing new for Titans behemoth Dave Taylor.
When he made his NRL debut for the Brisbane Broncos as a 17-year-old still enrolled at St Brendan's College at Yeppoon, kids would invariably talk in hushed tones as he went between classes.
When he travelled to footy carnivals his reputation would often precede his enormous frame as high school kids did their best to mentally overcome the prospect of tackling someone who had already played alongside Origin players such as Shane Webcke, Brad Thorn, Dane Carlaw and Corey Parker.
These days, Taylor has to work his way past the Year 7 kids who are in awe at his mere presence as he does his daddy duty of picking up eldest daughter Macie from school.
It's Macie's first year of school on the Gold Coast and her proud dad is only too happy to be on pick-up duty when training commitments at the Titans allow.
"I do it whenever I finish early; I'd do it every day if I could," Taylor tells NRL.com. "It's quite an amazing thing, seeing your little girl run off for her first day of school and playing with the other kids.
"The kids there love it when I go for school pick-up. I've got to walk past the Year 7 room and they're the ones that sort of know what footy is and who every player is so I get held up a little bit there, going past that classroom, but they love it.
"It's funny when you're walking through the school grounds, you can always hear little whispers – 'That's him, that's him' – and they always walk past and say, 'Hello Mr Dave Taylor.' It's pretty awesome to be able to bring joy to people's lives like that.
"They probably go home and tell their parents that a Titans player came and picked their daughter up from school and hopefully a few of them can start rugby league that way."
Blessed with a rare mix of size, speed and skill, Taylor has had to become accustomed to expectation almost from the time he started playing back in Blackwater.
When he runs out against his old club, the Broncos, on Friday night, there will be a mix of fans and detractors in the stands, those hoping to see the power and commitment that took him to a solitary Test jersey in 2012 and those wondering why he doesn't do it more often.
Due to turn 26 in July, Taylor displayed the type of destruction he can cause by simply tucking the ball under the arm and crashing into the defence at the back-
end of the 2013 season and again last week against Melbourne but admits the attacking urges – he regularly kicks field goals from beyond the 40-metre line at training – are sometimes hard to suppress.
"'Alby' (Titans half Albert Kelly) got me with one on the weekend," Taylor said of an offload late in the game against North Queensland in Round 4 that handed possession over to the Cowboys. "He screamed out and I got a little bit too excited and threw that ball and you get a big wake-up call when you do stuff like that.
"I had a couple of little errors in the game which I was quite disappointed in and I know that if I just run hard and run straight that everything else will be taken care of."
Titans hooker Beau Falloon has marvelled at the skills of his giant teammate first at South Sydney and now on the Gold Coast. He believes finding the balance between when to attack and when to play it safe is the key to getting the most valuable contribution from their six-time Origin representative.
"That's the key with him, the balance of when to offload and when not to," Falloon says. "'Carty' (Titans coach John Cartwright) just wants him getting the ball and running hard and playing the ball quick for our roll-ons. He's got that skill but it's just about the balance of when to use it and when not to.
"He can start our sets and he can also break a game wide open. We saw at the back-end of last year how important he was for us and that game against Melbourne last year, he really opened the game right up for us and played probably his best game of the season."
Just five players remain from the last Broncos team that Taylor played in back in 2009 and when the Brisbane boys come to town he is intent on atoning for some ill-disciplined play the last time the two sides met in Round 10 last year.
The Titans conceded eight penalties in the opening 30 minutes and things didn't improve once Taylor was introduced from the bench.
"Last year was just a shemozzle with penalties. We got hammered; I think we had 12 in the first half or something like that so that was pretty crazy," Taylor recalls.
"I was sitting on the sideline and I was just getting crankier and crankier just seeing the penalty count go up and when I went on... I think the ref already had a short fuse and one or two silly things from me and the penalty count went up a little bit more.
"Hopefully we can have a good game with no penalties, just a fast-flowing game."