Whiz kid to leave with Wayne's blessing
Wayne Bennett's belief that young Broncos half Ashley Taylor is ready for the NRL will see the Queensland under-20s representative head to the open market after being given permission to negotiate with other clubs.
Currently contracted to the Broncos until the end of the 2016 season, Taylor was given permission to look elsewhere on Saturday with his path to an NRL debut at Brisbane blocked by representative stars Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford.
Having first linked with the Broncos as a 12-year-old growing up in Toowoomba, Taylor didn't close the door on a return to Brisbane in future but was grateful for Bennett's understanding in allowing him to look for an opportunity elsewhere in the NRL.
"I'm just thankful to Wayne for letting me do it," Taylor told NRL.com. "He also thinks I'm NRL-ready so he just wants me to find the club to play first grade.
"He obviously thinks I can't be a regular first-grader at the Broncos so I'm just thankful he's given me the opportunity to go somewhere else and hopefully play regular NRL.
"It was always a dream [to play NRL for Brisbane]. I'd always loved to have played in the Broncos jersey but there's nothing to say I'll never come back to the club.
"Mid this year I just thought there was never going to be an opportunity to be a regular first-grader and that's what I need for my career, to be a regular first-grader, and that's what I aim to be.
"Wherever I end up hopefully they give me a chance to play NRL and I'll take it with both hands."
Currently in camp as an assistant with the Maroons, Broncos assistant coach Kevin Walters was surprised to learn of Taylor's imminent departure.
With the Titans and Knights just two clubs on the hunt for a halfback in 2016, Walters endorsed Taylor as a young player ready to take the next step in his career.
"He's just a genuine footballer. He can play to the structure but he reminds me of a backyard footy player," Walters said.
"A lot of the opposed stuff that we do at the Broncos he's on the other side and he's always getting everything right so he's a good listener and a good learner.
"He's going to turn into a real top-line [half] I would have thought.
"His maturity will come with it but for his age he's very smart, very clever.
"He's got a good career ahead of him, it's just a shame it won't be at the Broncos."
In addition to training with the Broncos' NRL squad, the 20-year-old has stepped up to play for Souths Logan in the Intrust Super Cup this year and on Wednesday night has the perfect opportunity to impress prospective clubs.
Three separate shoulder injuries restricted Taylor to a lone Queensland Schoolboys jersey in his junior days and after training opposite the Maroons in an opposed session on Sunday is going to treasure every moment on Wednesday night.
"It's definitely an honour. You don't get to represent your state very often growing up and I'll be definitely taking this opportunity," he said.