Titans rule out late play for Taylor
The Titans have all but ruled out making a late play for off-contract Wests Tigers back-rower Elijah Taylor as they weigh up their recruitment options in the wake of Greg Bird's departure to the Catalans Dragons in 2017.
Bird was on Wednesday released from the final year of his contract at Gold Coast to sign a five-year deal with Catalans, the club where he played 23 games in 2009 during his exile from the NRL.
Upon his return to the NRL Bird played 129 games across seven seasons for the Titans but the club's board had become increasingly tired of his regular association with off-field incidents in recent years and were happy to grant his release.
Bird's departure takes the number of NRL games worth of experience to have left the Titans since the end of the season past the 1,000 mark with senior players such as Nathan Friend, Josh Hoffman, Luke Douglas and David Mead all moving on.
The club has expressed interest in bringing Storm forward Kevin Proctor back to the Gold Coast where he completed his schooling but chief operating officer Tony Mestrov confirmed that officials will spend the next few days discussing the balance of recruiting a marquee player or whether to spread the remainder of their salary cap across the four available spots.
After bringing an extra dimension to their attack following his mid-season switch from the Panthers, Taylor has expressed a desire to remain at the Wests Tigers and a club official confirmed that they were confident of coming to an agreement in the near future.
But a deal has not yet been signed and former Titans football manager Scott Sattler believes the 26-year-old Kiwi international would represent the perfect replacement for a ball-playing lock forward such as Bird.
"Elijah Taylor would be the perfect fit. He'd be that missing link that you miss when you lose someone like Bird," Sattler told NRL.com.
"Because Greg Bird has been such a good player for the Titans – and he has been – I think you've got to replace him with a like-minded player.
"High work-rate, subtle skills with the ball in hand, physical in defence, energetic with everything that he does and guys like Elijah Taylor and Lewis Brown are the first that come to mind.
"You're losing a guy that is tough in the trenches, he's a guy that players want to play with but he's also got beautiful subtle skills as well.
"He's got great footwork, he's still quick, he's good with the ball in hand and defensively, he's a guy that the opposition has a look out of the corner of their eye to see where he is.
"[Taylor] would be perfect. He's played in grand finals, he's come under some really good coaches. He'd be perfect."
More and more in the modern game players are being positioned to leave their current club a year out from the end of their contract to take longer-term deals elsewhere, making the player market an increasingly fluid one.
There are some 230 players off-contract at the end of the 2017 season but Sattler is adamant the Titans need to find someone to fit the Bird mould in order to build on their unexpected success this season.
"Because they had such a good year this year that's why you've got to replace him with a like-minded player. You've got to keep that momentum and rhythm going that has been working for them," said Sattler.
"He seems to be one of those players that always gets lost in the traffic but a guy like Elijah Taylor has the ability to lift the intensity of a game with their involvement.
"I remember watching him as a 16-year-old and he had these beautiful, subtle set of hands and I kept wondering why teams weren't using him more in that sort of role.
"[The Tigers] weren't relying on Brooks and Moses because he was adding those little subtle touches around the ruck.
"Is he going to be part of their plans moving forward? You don't know."