Titan Taylor delayed by mystery injury
He still has no idea how he suffered compound fractures to two fingers in his NRL debut and Titans recruit Ashley Taylor concedes his recovery will impact his start to pre-season training with his new club next month.
In the aftermath of the Daly Cherry-Evans backflip the Titans signed the 20-year-old after he was given permission by the Broncos to look for an opportunity to play first grade elsewhere despite being contracted for a further season.
The Gold Coast secured his signature on a two-year deal and have also since signed experienced Knights half Tyrone Roberts. With Kane Elgey and Daniel Mortimer already on the books, competition to be Gold Coast's starting halves in Round 1 will be hard-fought.
A Junior Kangaroo, Queensland under-20s representative and the Holden Cup Player of the Year this year, Taylor made his NRL debut for the Broncos in Round 26 against the Storm but lasted only 30 minutes when two fingers on his right hand buckled while trying to make a tackle.
Six weeks later the bandages are off what was a sickening injury and Taylor is going through the painful process of getting movement back into the two shattered fingers before the Titans begin preparations for season 2016 on November 2.
"All I wanted to do was wrap Tohu [Harris, Storm forward] up and I honestly don't know how it happened," Taylor told NRL.com.
"The only way it could have happened was being bent back because of the extent of the injuries and sticking out this (palm) side so it would have had to have been bent back or hit right on the bone. It's difficult to say.
"The main thing with fingers is getting movement in them and getting rid of the stiffness and they're starting to get a bit better now. But there are a few more weeks and a bit more heartache to go through.
"It may delay [the start of pre-season] because obviously with the grip stuff in the gym and doing contact work, you don't want to re-injure it again at the start of pre-season but I reckon I should be right by the start of the season."
Despite the setback that now involves having his right hand bandaged like a boxer's first for 30 minutes and then having them straightened for 30 minutes – "Straightening is the one that hurts at the moment" – Taylor said he never expected to walk straight into the Titans' starting side when he signed in August.
"I definitely won't walk straight in and that was my mindset from the start before they had even signed Tyrone Roberts," he said.
"I am going in there open-minded, knowing that I might not be able to play first grade but I want to give it every opportunity I can so I'm going to go down there and give it a red-hot crack."
Taylor's season-ending injury proved to be the death knell for the title hopes of the Broncos' under-20s but he said the pain he is now experiencing was worth it for half an hour playing for the Brisbane Broncos in the top grade.
"I couldn't have been more proud to pull on that jersey," said Taylor, who was first signed by the Broncos as a 12-year-old in Toowoomba.
"I've always wanted to do it. My family have been going for the Broncos ever since I was little and I played against Cooper Cronk who I have always idolised growing up.
"I used to watch him play on TV out in my home town of St George and getting the opportunity to play against him was just unbelievable.
"Obviously I haven't had a real good run in terms of injuries with a few shoulder recons and stuff but it was good this year.
"I thought I was going to get through the whole season without getting injured and then got to the last game and done my fingers."