Ash Taylor is the Gold Coast Titans marquee player with a salary to match and coach Garth Brennan insists now is the time for him to take ownership of the team.
Taylor did at times in the 20-14 trial loss to the Warriors, and at times he didn’t, and Brennan said that needed to change. Five-eighth Kane Elgey is in the same boat.
Brennan said he was confident Taylor would stand up, but added his partnership with Elgey was still a work in progress.
"With Ash, I’ve said all along, he’s got all the accolades and he’s got the salary but he needs to start stepping up and owning this football team," Brennan said.
"I thought he did it in patches [against the Warriors] but when you ask your halfback to own your football team he needs to do it for 80 minutes, and Kane needs to buy into that as well.
"Kane can’t be sitting back and letting Ash do all the work. They need to work together a bit better than what they did tonight and hopefully that will come as the season goes along."
Taylor is 22 but as the highest-paid player at the club he has extra responsibility that goes with that.
"If you are going to put your hand out for it you’ve got to walk the walk," Brennan said.
"Look, Ash will get there. I have got the utmost confidence he will get there.
"There is a lot of work to be done yet with Ash. You watch Thurston and in the 80th minute [of his testimonial match against the Storm] he comes up with a freakish play, and Ash has aspirations to get to those heights.
"He needs to watch JT and learn how to control a football match and come up with the right play at the right time, and there were times there tonight where Ash didn’t come up with the right play."
Brennan pointed out Taylor did put on a show and go but lacked support from players around him.
He also said Taylor was a driven young man who was determined to take his game to great heights, and had done everything in his power to prepare himself for that goal.
"He has been fantastic and his pre-season has been enormous," Brennan said.
"I can’t wrap him more. His body is in great shape. He has done everything I have asked of him, and I can’t criticise him one little bit.
"Last year he had a senior half around him in Tyrone [Roberts]. This year he is the senior half and he needs to own the footy team.
"I am confident he can do that. He just needs to have Kevin Proctor on that right-hand side, but KP is not going to be there forever and Ash has got to start taking control."
Brennan may be a new Telstra Premiership coach but he is no soft touch. He knows the Titans must be better than what they have shown in two trial losses to the Broncos and, in this instance, the Warriors.
“It was the first hit-out for some of our guys with their combinations and it was scratchy, no doubt about that,” he said.
“The one good thing about it is that we probably didn’t show Canberra too much of what we’ve been working on so we’ll keep that up our sleeves for round one.
“The result I wasn’t too concerned about, the effort…there is still a lot of improvement needed.”