Taylor not intimidated by Hayne's presence
He's the 22-year-old caught in a four-way tug-of-war for control of the Titans' attack but Ash Taylor insists that he has no qualms putting Jarryd Hayne in his place if the situation calls for it, and it has Hayne's full support.
Following a pre-game switch of Hayne from fullback to left centre that allowed Tyrone Roberts to return to fullback and Kane Elgey to come back into the side at five-eighth, the Titans bumbled their way through the first half against Newcastle without any clear indication of who was in charge.
Taylor and Elgey took greater responsibility for their team in the second half and the result was 32 unanswered points and a 38-8 demolition of Newcastle, equal to the third-biggest winning margin in the club's 10-year history.
Playing just his 10th game for the club, Hayne's skill and experience can make him an intimidating presence for two halves with less than 60 NRL games between them but Taylor says the two have been working closely together for the betterment of the team.
Hayne appears to have taken a particular interest in Taylor's development and can often be seen working with him during training sessions at the Titans' Parkwood base but the reigning Rookie of the Year is adamant that when it comes to the crunch, he has to be the one in charge.
"We tip each other up like everyone does," Taylor said.
"It's always better to have two sets of eyes instead of just your own. He calls what he sees but if I see something different then I'm going to call it.
"I'm not going to be afraid to over-call him because I'm the dominant half, I'm the one that's going to get in trouble if we're not running the shape or we're not communicating.
"He can call something and we can run the shape but if I've already called something I'm definitely going to run the shape I've called."
It is no coincidence that Hayne's return from an ankle injury has contributed significantly to the Titans winning two games in succession and exactly how he fits into the attacking structure after the Representative Round will impact just how much headway Gold Coast can make up the Telstra Premiership ladder.
He has been impressed by how Taylor has begun his second season in the NRL and believes it is up to the youngster to be the dominant playmaker.
"It's good for Ash to step up and kind of take that next step," Hayne said.
"I know my second year was definitely tough and definitely a lot different to my first year but I think he's done great.
"He's really taken it on board, he's starting to understand organising the middles, organising the ruck, calling the plays a play before which I'm sure he's getting used to.
"I'm just there to help and guide with my experience and to really see him blossom. He's been great and his kicking game is unbelievable."
At times this season Taylor's body language has suggested a young player struggling to deal with the pressure of expectation and he admits that having different hookers, halves and fullbacks most weeks has made his job difficult.
"It obviously doesn't help the team when we're chopping and changing but the boys adapted to it well last week and this week," said Taylor.
"There were a few times [in the first half against the Knights] when we did get miscommunication and stuff like that but we've got to be better at that and make sure we're sticking to our strategies and sticking to our gameplan to try and get the win, which we did do in the second half.
"The second half is what we've got to take into the rest of the year. Obviously the first half was pretty sloppy and we were down 8-6 but that wasn't our standard of footy and we know that ourselves.
"'King' (Titans coach Neil Henry) told us at half-time that we needed to get back to the way we were playing the last few weeks which we did."