How Good Is... Dave Taylor
As Maverick in "Top Gun", Tom Cruise was once accused of having an ego writing cheques that his body couldn't cash; in the case of Titans mountain of muscle Dave Taylor, it's his unique mix of size and speed that is pushing the boundaries of his physical limitations.
As revealed recently on NRL.com, Taylor's ability to run like an outside back combined with his freakish build is putting extraordinary pressure on his calf muscles, muscles that regularly succumbed during 2014 and even the early days of pre-season training for 2015.
In many ways next year may be a defining one for the way in which Taylor is remembered in years to come. His return to the Origin arena in 2014 was deserved if not ultimately underwhelming and new coach Neil Henry will test his mental strength and application.
At 26 years of age and with a host of seasoned Titans veterans now elsewhere, there is no better time for Taylor to stamp himself as a marquee player on the Gold Coast but only time will tell if his mind and body are up to the challenge.
What made 2014 so special?
There was more solid and less silly in Taylor's game in 2014 and the more straightforward approach to his footy made him on occasion all but unstoppable. Picking up from his strong finish to 2013, Taylor was a key contributor in the Titans' early success and maintained his form through until the middle of the season when he was rewarded with a Queensland call-up for games two and three of the Origin Series. In Round 11 he scored a first-half hat-trick against the Warriors and in four games in the centres he ran for a combined 630 metres, scored two tries and made 14 tackle breaks. Certainly something for coach Neil Henry to consider.
How can Taylor be better in 2015?
Play every game in the centres? Opposition teams would quickly target his limited lateral movement in defence but with an abundance of back-rowers at the club the pay-off in attack could very well be worth the risk. Titans halves Aidan Sezer and Daniel Mortimer are not overly creative playmakers so having an option of giving early ball to Taylor on one side or James Roberts on the other may be the Titans' best chance of creating havoc with the defence. His 22 errors barely saw him scrape into the top 50 of the NRL's worst offenders in 2014 but his contribution in 2015 will depend on how he now sees his responsibility for the team's overall performance.
Which Titans signing will have the greatest impact on Taylor in 2015?
There's no question that Josh Hoffman would be well served in studying where big Dave does most damage but it could be the club's most recent acquisition that provides Taylor with the time and space to do his thing. Energetic former Panther Kierran Moseley is electric out of dummy-half and if he is used as the Titans' 'super sub' it will give Taylor the opportunity to charge at a retreating defence where his powerful runs are their most effective.