Brennan's Taylor connection a Titans trump card

Brennan's Taylor connection a Titans trump card

He has been secretly guiding the formative stages of Ash Taylor's first grade career for the past 18 months and now new Titans coach Garth Brennan wants to have a hands-on role in the talented half becoming the centrepiece of an NRL powerhouse.

Brennan was officially announced as Gold Coast's head coach for the next three seasons on Thursday and with the November 1 cut-off before other clubs can begin negotiating with Taylor quickly approaching the NRL's newest coach was hit with a question on the future of the 22-year-old straight out of the gates.

Titans officials are working furiously to wrap up a deal with Taylor before the end of the month that would extend his tenure beyond the 2018 season and the confirmation of Brennan will only help to speed up that process.

"We can build a club around Ash. I'm fairly confident he's not far away from committing to the Gold Coast Titans."

New Titans coach Garth Brennan

As Brennan's candidacy for the vacancy created by the sacking of former coach Neil Henry became clear, rumours began circulating that he and Taylor were known to each other and that he was someone Taylor trusted.

Those rumours were put to bed when Brennan confirmed that on the advice of Tyrone Roberts the Toowoomba junior had approached him about a mentoring role as he navigated the opening stages of his NRL career, advice that will now be much closer to hand.

"I'm fairly confident a deal with the Gold Coast Titans will be imminent," Brennan said of Taylor's future, confirming that the pair had spoken in recent days.

"I've had a relationship with Ash for over 18 months. I know him well.

"A lot of players I've coached at different clubs, the Mata'utia boys at Newcastle, Will Smith (Parramatta), Tyrone Roberts are all players I've coached.

"He actually asked those players if they could put me in contact with Ash.

"It was just a mentoring role I've had over the last 18 months.

"It's exciting. He is a real talent and part of what's going to help us going forward.

"We can build a club around Ash. I'm fairly confident he's not far away from committing to the Gold Coast Titans."

After making his NRL debut at the Brisbane Broncos in Round 26, 2015, Taylor joined the Titans and took advantage of a pre-season injury to Kane Elgey to claim the Dally M Rookie of the Year award in 2016.

He showed great resilience to play all 24 games in 2017 and finish with the equal high for try assists in the NRL with 19, his brilliant kicking game providing the origin for the majority of those.

Brisbane's interest in luring Taylor back to Red Hill is well known but given their star-studded roster they are unable to match the base contract being offered by the Titans and having a coach with whom he has an existing relationship will only make the task to prise him away from Parkwood more difficult.

As he guided Penrith to the Intrust Super Premiership NSW title and subsequent State Championship win over the PNG Hunters Brennan was also working in the background to assist Taylor to continue to develop his game.

"I was very conscious of not treading on previous coaches' toes, so I wasn't going into game-plans," Brennan said.

"It was just little tips I could see in his game that he needed to work on, whether it was his running game, his kicking game or where I thought he could exploit the opposition a little bit more.

"Things like game management. Obviously when you're playing against different teams you've got to adjust your game a little bit depending on their defensive structures."

NRL.com understands that given their history together dating back to their shared time at Newcastle, Tyrone Roberts would have been a good chance to stay at the Titans had the club been able to make the Brennan appointment earlier.

Eventually the size of the contract being offered by the Warrington Wolves in England and a fear he could be left out in the cold if he didn't take it forced Roberts' hand, with Brennan philosophical about losing a player who had given wonderful service to the club for the past two years.

"It's disappointing but players move on and it's fantastic for Tyrone and his young family to head over to Warrington," Brennan said.

"It's a strong club over there in the Super League, he's going to one of the benchmark clubs over there.

"We can't keep them all unfortunately."