Taylor declares All Stars availability
The NRL's reigning rookie of the year Ashley Taylor has quashed any suggestion his troublesome groin will prevent him from representing the Indigenous All Stars in February, insisting that if he is selected he will be fit to play.
Public voting for the Indigenous All Stars team is now open with Taylor a chance to partner the best player in the game, Johnathan Thurston, at the Indigenous celebration on February 10 that be played in Newcastle for the first time.
Taylor was a stand-out for the Titans in their push to return to the finals for the first time in six years in 2016 and was rewarded with both the club and Dally M Rookie of the Year awards.
Fellow Titan Tyrone Roberts, Canberra's Aidan Sezer and Rabbitohs half Cody Walker are the other leading contenders to line up alongside Thurston who missed the 2016 All Stars match for the first time in its history.
After off-season groin surgery Taylor has been placed on a modified training program by the Titans but the 21-year-old is adamant he will be fit to take his place in the team should the public vote him in.
"I should be back doing full training before Christmas," Taylor told NRL.com.
"It's just about getting the agility back now. My straight-line running is good so it's just about getting the agility back but if I was to be picked in the Indigenous All Stars team it would mean the world to me and my family as well.
"Hopefully I do get selected because it will be a good experience.
"I had my first running session the first day back and me and Zeb [Taia] are on the same program. We're slowly getting there so hopefully in the next couple of weeks we're back in full training.
"I'm pulling up comfortably after running so that was the main thing, just to take my time and make sure it's healed properly and do all the right things."
Born in Toowoomba before taking his formative rugby league steps in St George, Taylor was a member of the Queensland Murri under-16s team that played the curtain-raiser to the All Stars clash in 2011.
With the likes of Thurston and Greg Inglis set to lead the Indigenous All Stars team Taylor is so desperate to be part of the festivities that he wants to go into camp with the team even if he isn't in the final squad.
"I went to one when I was under-15s and played in the pre-game and I've just been excited since then. Hopefully my dream comes true," Taylor said of possible selection.
"They're all great stars. Obviously big 'GI' and Johnathan Thurston as well. There's a lot of experience going to be in that team so I'd love to just be a part of the week.
"Even if I didn't end up playing, just to be there and learn off them would be a really great experience."