Taylor pleads for Roberts' retention
Titans halfback Ashley Taylor has pleaded with coach Neil Henry to retain Tyrone Roberts as his halves partner for the remainder of the season, believing not only that he is the right man for the job but that he brings out the best in his own game.
In the two games this season in which Taylor and Roberts have started in the halves the Titans have accounted for the Sharks and the Dragons, the pair orchestrating a 20-10 win at Cbus Super Stadium on Friday night to keep their team's slim finals hopes alive.
Since coming together at the start of last season following the knee injury to Kane Elgey the Roberts-Taylor combination has become one of the club's most successful with 11 wins and a draw from 20 games together, culminating in a long-awaited finals performance last season.
The pair share a close bond off the field that obviously translates onto it but with Elgey expected to have recovered from a sternum injury to be available for selection against the Sharks in Round 19, Henry has two weeks to ponder which pairing has the most potential to take the team on a late-season surge.
Roberts suffered a knock to his ankle late against the Dragons that is not believed to be too serious and having returned from a shoulder injury to play against the Dragons Taylor is adamant he did enough to warrant retention in the halves for the rest of the year.
"I think he deserves that six jersey as much as anyone," Taylor told NRL.com.
"He's worked hard and it does benefit me off the back of it. I just feel a lot more comfortable with him there and it showed tonight.
"He's had to adapt to the new role he's got in the team which was a utility role but I'm pretty sure he's cemented himself in the six after tonight's performance.
"He was great out there for us tonight and he got our kicking game going which we needed and I just fed off the back of that.
"I felt a spark, the same feeling it was last year. I was very comfortable out on the field and we knew our main goal was to get the win and make sure we've got shape running all the time so that's what we had tonight.
"He's an experienced player, 130-odd games, and I just feed off the back of that and off the back of him. I listen to him, and that's the main thing. I listen to what he's got to say and try and take it all in."
Coming back from a knee injury that prevented him from playing a single game in 2016, Elgey has built into the season as his confidence has grown but while he has seven tries he has just the one try assist to his name in 12 games.
Henry has made no secret of his belief that his preferred pairing is Taylor and Elgey but he admitted in the post-match press conference that he will have to re-evaluate what will best serve the team in the remaining eight rounds.
"He got a knock to his ankle I think but he stayed out there and did a lap signing autographs so I think he's OK," Henry said of the injury to Roberts that forced him from the field six minutes from full-time.
"We'll see how Tyrone pulls up and we'll have to make a decision about that. We'll wait and see. See how we train and what we're going to come up with as the best combination there.
"Kane was doing some good things before as well. The one constant has tended to be Ash Taylor but we've rotated other guys around but I thought we had some nice ball movement at times with 'T' (Roberts) out there and they both kick goals so there's not much difference there at all.
"We'll wait and see. It would be a luxury to have if we've got to make a choice like that anyway."
Recording consecutive wins for just the second time this season, Taylor believes with a much healthier roster the Titans can carry any momentum they have generated into the back-end of the season.
"Hundred per cent we can. I take a lot of confidence out of that game and I'm sure the boys are going to take confidence as well," said Taylor.
"We're going to feed off the back of that game and take it into the next game and we're going to be all guns blazing."