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Dave Taylor made his Canberra debut in Round 3.

As a former housemate, Andrew McCullough saw it all.


"Where do you want me to start?" was McCullough's response when asked for his best Dave Taylor story from their time together at the Broncos almost a decade ago.

"Ping pong nude against him.

"Should I keep going?

"His breathing before his nose job?"

Given that he weighs in at 131 kilograms, tales of his eating prowess have also become legendary.

"Dave's favourite meal for a while was a full loaf of bread, a full chook and a bottle of tomato sauce and whenever he finished the chicken bones he used to put them down the side of the couch," McCullough revealed.

"You can imagine what Dave was like as a housemate."

When he joined the Broncos on a scholarship whilst attending St Brendan's College in Yeppoon Taylor would regularly travel down to Brisbane for camps and astound fellow attendees with his food intake.

"Every time he'd come we'd have to wait for Dave and have extra food on the table," remembers current Broncos skipper Darius Boyd, who debuted in the same year as Taylor in 2006.

"He'd always be eating way more than he probably should have been but he was just a beast. He's a guy that has a six-pack and weighs 125 kilos; he's just a freak of nature."

Broncos half Ben Hunt was a teammate of Taylor's in schoolboy footy with St Brendan's and said it was hard to pull an enormous front-rower into line who would more often than not pull off whatever ridiculous skill he was in the mood to try that day.

"He could probably run over anyone he wanted to at school but he tried to chip-chase over them, throw cut-out passes," Hunt recalled.

"Sometimes he was the best player in the world to play with at school and the next week you'd be cursing him for throwing passes over the sideline.

"Back then I didn't really want to yell at him too many times because of the size that he was but you had to pull him into line sometimes.

"Half the things he did he was pulling off. He'd chip-case and regather, he was just a really good talent and backed his ability at school."

All three Broncos speak of Taylor in affectionate tones and as fans we are fascinated the now 28-year-old not purely because of the extraordinary physical gifts he was born with but by the child-like way he approaches his footy.

In the professional era Taylor treats training and high-pressure NRL contests like they are pick-up games with his mates after school where an intercept or three-man cut-out pass is infinitely more interesting than getting to the end of a mythical set.

As coaches such as Wayne Bennett, Michael Maguire, John Cartwright and Neil Henry spoke to Taylor about something serious such as defence during a training session, you could see 'Big Dave' thinking about potting a field goal from halfway as soon as they finished saying whatever it was they were talking about.

And when they did, he'd turn around and kick a towering drop goal from almost any point on the field.

His return to the NRL with the Raiders last Sunday garnered widespread interest because of the enigma that he is and when he plays at Suncorp Stadium against the Broncos on Friday night it will be just shy of 11 years since he first entered the NRL with Brisbane as a 17-year-old in 2006.

After stints with Brisbane, South Sydney and Gold Coast Taylor's NRL tenure appeared over when he signed with Super League's Catalans Dragons for the 2016 season and any return to top flight footy seemed even less likely when he was released by the French club one year into a two-year deal.

Only a chance meeting with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart at Sydney airport reignited a small flame of hope for an NRL lifeline and after a pre-season of no promises and working at a Canberra hotel, Taylor's return was rubber-stamped.

"Everyone talks about his talent but he needs to channel things like ball control and penalties in his game and once again he could be anything. But that's up to Dave and the hard work that he's put in," said McCullough.

"He had to figure that out for himself and that will show in the next six months whether he's done that or not."

Adds Boyd: "When you come back from off-field dramas or a serious injury you realise how lucky you are to play the game and how much you have at your feet.

"Sometimes you probably take it for granted and hopefully for Dave's sake he sees it that way. That he's got another chance at a great club in Canberra and the world is at his feet.

"He's still young enough to do some damage in the game and he's got all the attributes so I'm sure he'll take that opportunity."

For Hunt, sharing the field again with his old mate from St Brendan's will be a reunion he thought he might never have again.

"To be honest I didn't think he would have come back," Hunt said.

"I thought he would have probably finished his career over there and we would never have seen him again but I'm really excited to see him back.

"I'm really happy for him and I hope he can keep his head down, work hard and make something of it."


Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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