Taylor urged to become Titans' running man

Taylor urged to become Titans' running man

Run Ash, run.

That's the message from Titans back-rower Kevin Proctor after torrential rain on Saturday night forced Gold Coast halfback Ash Taylor to run the ball at the Sharks defence and resulted in a man-of-the-match display and the first two-try haul of his young career.

Although they are riding the momentum that comes with a three-game winning streak the Titans' finals aspirations remain in a perilous position, their clash with the Panthers on Saturday potentially having massive ramifications for two teams trying to stay in touch with the top eight.e

Penrith are currently two points clear of the Titans and it would take a 32-point win by Gold Coast to move ahead on points differential this week but a win by the Panthers would put them within reach of the eighth-placed Dragons.

The most fascinating match-up of Saturday afternoon's game at Pepper Stadium is that between the two halves, with 22-year-old Taylor and 19-year-old Nathan Cleary both playing starring roles in wins for their team last weekend.

 


With his confidence bolstered from a chat with Cooper Cronk whilst in camp with the Queensland Origin team, Taylor took the Cronulla defence on either side of half-time and came up with two tries and Proctor has urged him to take that attitude through the remainder of the season.

"It's always good when Ash is running the ball because he's a really good runner. He's pretty strong for his size too," Proctor told NRL.com.

"He's really skilful and really talented for his age. The way he leads the team around he's done that really well for the last three weeks.

"We're starting to form a little bit of a combination now and work out how each other plays. That was only going to come in time and the more games we play the better the combination we'll have.

"He's got a lot of improvement in him but he's always willing to learn and he's got the right attitude for a halfback.

"They're good signs for the club and good signs for the team."

‌Given the atrocious conditions that lashed Cbus Super Stadium prior to kick-off and for much of the first half Taylor was left with little option but to run when the opportunity presented itself, something he's not always done so far this season.

With 14 try assists through 19 rounds he has already surpassed the 12 he amassed on his way to Dally M Rookie of the Year honours last year but conceded his running game is something he needs to bring on a more consistent basis.

"It's something that halfbacks need," Taylor said. "Some weeks we don't have it and other weeks we do.

"You've just got to pick your time to run the ball because most times you do get knocked on your back after you pass the footy. So you've just got to pick your times.

"Certain players do turn in and certain players turn out so it comes down to doing your own review and playing smart footy."

Excited by his clash with Cleary this weekend, Taylor said the opportunity to join the Maroons camp and spend some time with Cronk was an invaluable learning experience and hopes to take what he learned and apply it to the Titans' finals push.

"I had a good sit-down with Cooper and we had a good chat about his preparation towards the game and towards an Origin match," said Taylor, who at times in 2017 has looked frustrated by his own performances.

"It was just to have confidence in what you do. That's something that all those players at that elite level, Origin level, have.

"They're all confident in what they do so I just need to go into more games a lot more confident than what I have been.

"I'm feeling confident in everything I do so I've just got to keep taking that into the back-end of the season."