Taylor battling injury ahead of Broncos clash
He is set to become the subject of a million dollar tug-of-war between two fierce rivals but the greatest concern for Titans half Ash Taylor right now is overcoming a hip pointer injury so that he can take his place against the Broncos on Saturday night.
The respective CEOs of the two clubs, Brisbane's Paul White and Gold Coast's Graham Annesley, will come together at the Southport Surf Club on Thursday morning in support of the Thomas Kelly Foundation that is driving the need to create a responsible drinking culture within Australia.
Ahead of the 23rd meeting of the two south-east Queensland rivals the future of Taylor has become a hot topic of discussion after Broncos coach Wayne Bennett expressed his interest in bringing Taylor back to Red Hill when his current contract expires on the Gold Coast at the end of 2018.
As the Titans took to Cbus Super Stadium on Wednesday to fine-tune their preparations, back-rower Kevin Proctor tested the strength of his hamstring on the sidelines after missing last week's loss to the Wests Tigers while Taylor received regular treatment for his hip pointer injury, at one stage having to leave the training field to receive additional treatment.
After battling through the latter stages of his rookie season with groin injuries Taylor has missed only 10 minutes of his second year in the NRL and is currently sitting equal second in try assists through 21 rounds with 16.
Hip pointer injuries generally respond to treatment within 48-72 hours so while Titans officials are confident he will take his place on Saturday night any doubt that he could miss the game adds another layer of intrigue to the contest.
After making his debut with the Broncos in Round 26 of the 2015 season Taylor was released by Bennett so that he could pursue a starting spot at the Titans.
When Kane Elgey suffered a season-ending knee injury in the pre-season Taylor stepped up and was named the Dally M Rookie of the Year, further solidifying his place as one of the hottest prospects in the game.
At the end of his rookie season Taylor extended his Titans contract for a further 12 months to take him through until the end of the 2018 season but in a shrewd move four days out from the game Bennett told the Courier-Mail that he would be interested in having the 22-year-old Toowoomba junior one day re-join the Broncos stable.
Such is the regard for which the young playmaker is held he was invited into Queensland camp ahead of Origin III this year and Maroons coach Kevin Walters expects the bidding war for his services to become very heated.
"It's a bit like selling a house isn't it? It's what someone is prepared to pay for you. So if Ash can earn that sort of money, well then good luck to him," Walters said regarding reports he could command as much as $1 million a season in his new deal.
"He has got a terrific career in front of him. It's certainly in its infancy and there is obviously some work that needs to be done on his game but if somebody is going to pay him that much, well you're not going to knock it back.
"We understand how skilful and how talented he is and I guess the bonus for us was him getting to spend some time with some of our senior players who know Origin back to front.
"I know he got a lot out of that with Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston was in there as well, [Cameron] Smith, [Billy] Slater, you're learning from the greats of the game.
"It doesn't get any better than that teaching wise for him."