No mental scars for new Titan Taylor
The recovery from a sickening end to his first grade debut may be ongoing but Titans recruit Ashley Taylor insists he learnt enough in 30 minutes to know he can handle life as a halfback in the NRL.
Taylor was due to have stitches removed on Tuesday afternoon after follow-up surgery on two fingers that suffered compound fractures in his NRL debut for the Broncos in Round 26 against the Storm at Suncorp Stadium.
It's made for a frustrating start to life at his new club and with the expectation he will be on restricted duties until after Christmas gives incumbent Kane Elgey and former Knights half Tyrone Roberts first shot at developing a new halves combination.
Called in for Ben Hunt for the last game of the regular season, Taylor was targeted early by Storm, Queensland and Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith and said getting through that tough early period gives him enough confidence to stake a claim for a regular spot in 2016.
His opening touch in first grade came 35 seconds into the game against Melbourne with a kick at the end of the first set, the ball landing just centimetres inside the sideline as he was knocked to the ground by Smith, who followed up with some words of wisdom for the young half.
"He told Corey Parker after the game that he knew that was the plan," Taylor told NRL.com of being targeted by a modern great of the game.
"Because I was the main kicker he knew that if we had the ball first I'd want to get my good kick away first to give me a bit of confidence and he read it like a book.
"It was so surreal. I've grown up watching these players play and to play against them was just a dream come true and for him to come up like that and know that the play was happening was just unbelievable."
Taylor's debut lasted just 29 minutes before a seemingly innocuous attempt to tackle Storm back-rower Tohu Harris left him reeling with two broken fingers breaking the skin and sending him straight to hospital.
It was not how the Junior Kangaroos representative thought his debut would end but after the initial nerves settled down he felt comfortable in the top grade.
"I started getting comfortable and then I did my hand. I was starting to get into the game and starting to feel at home," Taylor said.
"The first couple of minutes were really nerve-racking. Just running out in front of that crowd and seeing the atmosphere there was just massive.
"I didn't feel like there was any weight on my shoulders. Wayne [Bennett, Broncos coach] made sure there wasn't any weight on my shoulders, the boys made me feel comfortable and I just had to go out there and do my thing.
"I didn't think it would end that way, my debut game. I thought I'd get through the game at least and get a bit of a taste of first grade.
"It is frustrating in terms of starting with a new team and starting on the back foot [at the Titans] but I'll get there.
"I'd want to be in the main group and training with the boys and getting to know everyone, getting to work on combinations with everybody. It's a shame that it's not right but it will be right soon."