Titans' halves future in safe hands: Hastings
The playmaking future on the Gold Coast is in safe hands when young guns Kane Elgey and Ashley Taylor combine in future years, according to fellow breakout star Jackson Hastings.
The Roosters halfback played alongside 20-year-old Taylor – who will make his NRL debut for Brisbane this week before heading to the Titans next year on a two-year-deal – in the Junior Kangaroos side earlier this year.
Hastings played fullback in that victory, with Taylor preferred at halfback alongside St George Illawarra five-eighth Drew Hutchison in a side where Taylor will be the 11th of the starting 13 to play NRL in 2015.
Valentine Holmes, Tepai Moeroa, Euan Aitken and Hastings are just some of the well-known names from that side, which held on to a thrilling 22-20 win over the Junior Kiwis in the Representative Round clash at Cbus Super Stadium in May.
Asked about relative unknown Taylor, Hastings had nothing but praise for the Toowoomba playmaker.
"He's a good player mate, Ash Taylor, he's a really skilled kid," Hastings said.
"He's not very big but he puts his body on the line, he's real tough in defence. Him and Kane Elgey, if they can keep those two for a few years I reckon the Titans could build a team around those two."
Hastings said he expected the pair – who will be competing with current Newcastle halfback Tyrone Roberts for game time – to face plenty of pressure in 2015 but backed them to ride it out.
"If they can stick together and get through the hard times and get some experienced players around them I think they'll do really well," Hastings said.
While Hastings has had less to do with Elgey he said he had been impressed with the Titans halfback from what he had seen of him and the few times he had faced him.
"As everyone's seen in the NRL he's a very talented player. He's got all the skill in the world," Hastings said.
"Ash is tough and very skilled as well so if those two can strike up a good combination the Titans could be dangerous."
Hastings was on the opposite side to Taylor when the two faced off in the under-20s Origin this year, with Hastings wearing No.6 in the Blues' victory opposite Taylor in the Maroon No.7 jersey.
"He was great again for Queensland, his kicking game is second to none. I was actually marking up against him so he obviously put me under the pump there and we were just lucky to get the win on the night," Hastings said.
Taylor will have plenty of eyes on him – particularly from the Gold Coast – when he makes his long-awaited NRL debut against the Storm on Thursday night for regular halfback Ben Hunt, who has been given the weekend off to rest some bumps and bruises.
Barring injury the match is likely to be Taylor's only NRL hit-out of the year but Titans fans will be eager for a glimpse of the future.
Taylor has had a prolific 2015 in the Holden Cup competition, scoring 203 points (first), and producing 27 try assists (second), 17 line-break assists, 198 kicks in general play, as well as four 40/20 kicks, more than any NRL player this season.