Elgey-Taylor era to begin for Titans
Kane Elgey and Ashley Taylor have never played together before but Titans prop Ryan James is hoping that Sunday's trial against the Warriors will mark the start of a long-standing partnership at the Gold Coast Titans.
Holden Cup players of the year in consecutive seasons in 2014 and 2015, Elgey and Taylor are regarded as two of the hottest prospects among young halves currently in the game and have the potential to pilot the Titans towards a maiden premiership in the years to come.
In his first appearance for the Indigenous All Stars last Friday night Taylor shone in elite company while Elgey laid on the opening try of the game for Leivaha Pulu, scored one himself and provided the impetus for a third with an incisive run in Gold Coast's 30-18 trial win over the Eels in Alice Springs.
Individually they are supreme talents with the rugby league world at their feet and their ability to find the right balance together will dictate just how far the Titans can progress in 2017.
Elgey will be parked on the left side of the field where his left boot can be used most effectively and Taylor will control the right, where he has the potential to form dangerous combinations with hard-running pair Kevin Proctor and Konrad Hurrell on his outside.
Both young men are signed with the club until the end of the 2018 season but James believes that if their combination proves to be a success early in the season that the club should do everything in its power to keep them together well into the future.
"They're only 21 and 23 and if you can get that good half combination and get that good core of players together it would just be great for the club," said James, who could share the captaincy duties with Elgey this season.
"If it happens and they go great for us this year it could be great for the next five or six years.
"You've just got to look at what other teams with young halves have done in the past, they always seem to go well."
After scoring his team's first try of the Downer NRL Auckland Nines Elgey wasted little time asserting himself against the Eels in what his comeback from last year's ACL injury, his first full game since September 2015.
After Tyler Cornish went close to scoring next to the posts Elgey called for the ball to the left where he straightened and put Pulu through a gap to slice through from close range and run around and score under the posts.
"Kane gave me a short ball, he squared up the defence and just put me straight through," Pulu said.
"He brings that calmness to the boys. When it gets tough he has that game sense where he knows when to put it in goal or when to kick it. He brings a lot of talk as well."
Although Elgey is the elder of the pair Taylor now actually has more NRL experience having played 22 games in his rookie year last season.
Who takes control in the pressure situations late in games will be a fascinating aside to their partnership this season but James is adamant that egos won't get in the way of what is best for the team.
"I don't think either of them really have an ego," James said. "They're happy to always do what's best for the team, whether it be any role in the team.
"They're great young kids and they're always willing to learn and the best thing about it is they're young so they've got a lot to learn and we've got a great opportunity here to get two great halves for the future of the club.
"They both have great talk and it's going to be good for them to get a game this weekend because they've never played together before.
"Chemistry was building over pre-season and with 'Haynesy' [Jarryd Hayne] out the back he seems to pull in a couple of players and it's just for them to make the right decisions.
"They both dig into the line, they're both willing to take a hit and they both make good decisions. Left and right-foot kickers; it seems to be shaping up pretty good."