Taylor's plea: Give me the ball
Eighty minutes opposite his idol Cooper Cronk has convinced Titans rookie Ashley Taylor that he needs to get his hands on the ball more often in order to better contribute to his team's performance.
After going head-to-head with the game's master tactician last Sunday, Taylor's assignment on Saturday night against the Wests Tigers is a vastly different one, facing off against fellow 21-year-old Luke Brooks.
Brooks is only three months older than Taylor – who turns 21 on Thursday – but is far more advanced in NRL years, his return from suspension against the Sea Eagles on Monday night his 46th top grade appearance after making his debut in 2013.
In his three career NRL starts Taylor has opposed Cronk and his Melbourne Storm team on two occasions and said the major lesson he took from Sunday's 34-16 defeat was the dominant hand that Cronk plays.
"I've always watched him growing up and idolised him so it's a moment I'll never forget, shaking the hand of the Australian Test No.7 and one of the best halves getting around," Taylor said of his post-game moment with Cronk, an opportunity he missed in Round 26 last year due to his fractured fingers.
"He just gets his hands on the ball a lot more. Obviously with Tyrone [Roberts] he's the senior half and he's trying to get his hands on the ball as much as I am.
"I just noticed a lot that he gets his hands on the ball early catch and always plays his cards right."
Although in running Taylor appeared to be more heavily involved than in Round 1 against the Knights, he in fact only got his hands on the ball one additional time (32) while Roberts' touches against the Storm totalled 59.
After Roberts took almost sole responsibility for the Titans' kicking game in Round 1 (393 kicking metres compared to Taylor's 70m) the duties were more evenly shared against the Storm (221m to 171m).
With three try assists in his first two games for Gold Coast Taylor is also hoping to see a more even share with ball in hand.
"I spoke to Neil (Titans coach Neil Henry) during the week and said that I wanted to get more involved in the game," Taylor told NRL.com.
"[Against the Knights] I didn't get my hands on the ball much so I want to slowly gain more confidence and running shape on our side.
"Obviously we don't get much ball because they tend to favour the right side in pulling shape and stuff so we've got to start calling the ball our way and running shape our side as well.
"I'd love to run the ball more, it's just the last few weeks the conditions haven't been great for the running game. It was raining last week and this week the field was really sandy and couldn't really run the ball.
"There wasn't much grip through the tags and stuff so hopefully this week it's a dry track and I'll be able to run the ball more."
Back-rower Chris McQueen said that like the team as a whole, Taylor's game will continue to develop as the season progresses.
"That's something that we expect from him and as he gets more experience he'll be doing that more and more," McQueen said of his increased involvement.
"As the season goes on he's only going to get better so certainly looking forward to what he is going to bring for us."