Taylor to benefit from Hayne's influence
Titans half Ashley Taylor may still be coming to terms with his famous new halves partner but respected rugby league figures are predicting Jarryd Hayne will have a positive influence on the rookie No.7.
With Tyrone Roberts at least another week away from playing due to a knee injury Hayne has been promoted to start at five-eighth against the Wests Tigers on Saturday, continuing a partnership with Taylor that saw its first 40 minutes in the second half against the Warriors last Sunday.
It's the latest milestone in a meteoric rise for Taylor who is favourite to be named the 2016 Rookie of the Year with the 21-year-old conceding the chance to play alongside Hayne wasn't something he dreamed would ever be possible.
"I'd never thought that would happen in my lifetime, obviously with him being in the NFL," Taylor told Sky Sports Radio's Big Sports Breakfast.
"I never thought that I would be able to play alongside such a great player like him.
"He's a great asset to our team and I love playing alongside him."
The combination of Taylor and Roberts has been viewed as integral to the Titans putting themselves in such a good position four weeks out from the finals but their season goes on the line against the ninth-placed Tigers at Campbelltown Sports Ground.
Some experts have questioned whether the late injection of Hayne into the team could in fact derail their finals push but former Maroons and Kangaroos legend Brent Tate believes Hayne's presence will ease the pressure on young Taylor.
"It's going to be a good thing for young halfback Ash Taylor to have an opportunity to learn from the former New South Wales fullback," Tate writes in this week's issue of Big League.
"Hayne will take a bit of pressure off the current halves, especially with the team's kicking game.
"He's a genuine threat out the back in attack and can come up into the front-line and take some pressure off the younger players."
Admitting that he will have to re-think where Hayne fits into the team when Roberts returns from injury, coach Neil Henry is also confident Hayne's inclusion will prevent Taylor from being targeted by opposition defenders as he was against the Warriors last week.
"He's a go-to that's a real threat carrying the ball so it does put another question to the defensive line," Henry said of starting Hayne at five-eighth.
"We need to make sure we're not relying on Jarryd producing something, we need to be creative around him and play our natural game as well.
"Ash Taylor can manage a game. He did most of our kicking last week. Jarryd is a good runner of the ball so if he can take the line on and get a balance between doing that and distributing the ball that will be good for us."
The responsibility of doing more than half of the kicking in general play on top of the goal-kicking is putting further pressure on a groin injury that Taylor continues to manage.
His shoulders that have endured three surgeries already to date have been battered by hard-running back-rowers and centres eager to isolate him as a defender but he has dragged himself up off the canvas time and again.
Having started the season on the left he is now developing a dangerous right edge with Chris McQueen and Konrad Hurrell, McQueen speaking in great admiration of the toughness he has displayed in his rookie season.
"He's taken it like a champ," McQueen said.
"People probably forget that he's still probably only played a handful of first grade games, 20 or so. To be handling it the way he is and playing the sort of footy he is is a credit to him.
"The more footy we play together the more we learn each other's game.
"It's something that has taken a little bit of time and he's getting more confident every week.
"He's starting to take the line on and starting to throw those little passes and put people through gaps so the better he gets the better I'll play."