Origin omission to fuel 'Coal Train'
Dave Taylor's Origin disappointment looks set to be a blessing for the Titans with Gold Coast coach John Cartwright predicting he'll take his game to even greater heights in the coming weeks.
While the Maroons squad for Game One was assembling at Suncorp Stadium this morning, Taylor was with his Titans teammates on the suburban training park adjacent to Cbus Super Stadium in the knowledge that he will have to wait longer for an Origin recall.
Taylor represented Queensland on six occasions between 2010-12 while with the Rabbitohs and was very much in the selection frame given his strong and consistent start to the season. Having played all 10 games for the Titans thus far, Taylor is averaging more than 135 metres per game and has 17 tackle breaks to his name.
One of his Gold Coast teammates was overhead this morning saying that he'd much rather tackle Chris McQueen or Josh Papalii than Taylor and Cartwright believes his omission will manifest itself in a big performance against the Warriors at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday evening.
"You want them to play at the highest level; if he's playing State of Origin it means he's doing a good job for the club," Cartwright said.
"I think he definitely would have been in the picture, they definitely would have spoken about him but they pride themselves on staying thick with the guys that have done the job. I haven't seen the side but it looks like that's what they've done.
"He has to [take his game to another level]. If that's his ambition, they're not going to want guys who kick stones and I've got no doubt he won't. He's in the best form he's been in at our club over the last six weeks and I expect him to do the same."
With Nate Myles in camp with Queensland, Greg Bird suspended for one more match, Aidan Sezer suffering a pectoral injury that will sideline him for up to four months and Ashley Harrison also in doubt with a neck injury, having Taylor handy to face the Warriors is a significant boost.
Albert Kelly and William Zillman both completed Monday morning's training session as did Brad Tighe, Maurice Blair and James Roberts, all of whom played in the Intrust Super Cup last weekend.
Sezer underwent surgery on Sunday for his pectoral injury but despite his lengthy stint on the sidelines, Cartwright wouldn't guarantee Beau Henry an extended starting spot in the halves.
Henry played just his second NRL game in more than two years last Friday and is off-contract at the end of 2014, his future at the club to be dictated by his performances in the coming weeks.
"Doing a good job last week doesn't guarantee a season of good jobs," he said. "It's rolling up your sleeves again this week and playing consistently for a long period of time. If he can do that and we're winning games there'll be a spot there.
"We've lost our last two games and there are guys underneath who are going really well so you've got to be consistent and you've got to play at that level every week."
Another player looking to parlay the injury-hit squad into a new contract is back-rower Mark Minichiello. Minichiello started in 13 of the 16 games he played in 2013 but last Friday's 22-8 loss to the Broncos was just his second appearance in the run-on side this season.
Desperate to earn an extended contract at the Titans at the end of 2014, the 32-year-old is again likely to start in the second row against the Warriors, a role he has favoured throughout his career.
"I've started most of my career so it's where I like to be on the field. I like to start the game and get out there as soon as possible," Minichiello said.
"We'll sit down with the club and see what they want to do but I'm keen to keep playing so we'll just see how it pans out."