Taylor admits: It's time I stood up
He has described his 2014 season as the most consistent of his career and now Gold Coast Titans back-rower Dave Taylor concedes the time has come to become a leader at his club.
Taylor was on Tuesday named to make a return from a persistent calf injury in the second row for the final game of the season against the Bulldogs at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday but will have to pass a fitness test on Saturday before he is given the all clear.
Having earned an Origin recall with Queensland courtesy of whole-hearted displays to start the season, Taylor has missed the past three losses to the Sea Eagles, Dragons and Warriors but is desperate to take the field on Sunday.
The club will farewell the last two remaining foundation players in Luke Bailey and Mark Minichiello as well as veteran Ashley Harrison on Sunday and although there is not a finals spot at stake, Taylor insisted it is a game he wants to be a part of.
"I'm going to do everything I can to play," Taylor said.
"I know what to do now with a calf injury, I've had a few of them, so I've been putting everything that I've learnt over the last couple of years into use over the past three weeks. I'm definitely well ahead of schedule and really hoping to get out there for the boys' last game.
"We've got 'Harro' leaving as well even though he won't be playing and you've got 'Mini' and 'Bails' who are leaving so it's a really important game for us.
"You see the way the boys train, they want to be there and they want to play and I think they want to go out and have a good one for Bails and Mini this weekend and hopefully I'm right to get out there.
"Hopefully we can be the footy side you saw earlier in the year and just play for each other, that's the only thing we've got to play for now."
The loss of Harrison, Bailey and Minichiello represents a combined 43 years and 803 games of NRL experience walking out the door as of 6pm Sunday and Taylor is conscious of the need to pick up some of the slack.
Entering his 10th season in the NRL next season, Taylor's last game against the Roosters was the 150th of his career and he knows with new coach Neil Henry taking the reins the next step in his own game is to take on a more senior role at the club.
"I think we've all got to step up. Once you get over about 25 years old you become a leader anyway," said Taylor, who turned 26 in July. "I definitely reckon I need to stand up a little bit. I've had the big-game experience and I think I definitely do need to stand up and take a bit of a leadership role; it will probably be good for me.
"I really like Neil. He's a good coach and just tells it how it is and I think that will help a few boys who sort of struggle a little bit. We just need to buy in and make sure that we train hard for each other and work as hard as we can for each other."
A father of two young girls, Taylor was only too happy to help Bravehearts launch their White Balloon Day campaign on Tuesday that asks, #whoRUprotecting, with a social media campaign encouraging people to write the answer on their hand and posting it online.
Taylor wrote the names of his two daughters, Macie and Aliah, on his big mitts and said they have been the best antidote possible to the pain of another tough loss.
"They don't care if you've lost a game or played the worst game of your life, you're still their daddy," said Taylor. "They still look at you exactly the same; the coach mightn't but they definitely do.
"After day games if you've had a tough loss you go home and you're laying on the couch and they come and start wrestling you, you put the whole game out of your mind and just focus on your kids and the joy they bring is just amazing.
"They've definitely changed me. Sometimes it can get a bit stressful with them but the majority of the time it's all fun and love and that's the message they're trying to send with White Balloon Day, to cherish your time with your kids."