Taylor ready for reunion with Hunt
Increased future opportunities was behind Gold Coast Titans halfback Ash Taylor's decision to depart the Brisbane Broncos in 2015.
The player ahead of him at the time? A talented playmaker by the name of Ben Hunt.
Fast forward three years and the pair now find themselves at different clubs chasing the same dream, starting with their round three clash at Toowoomba's Clive Berghofer Stadium on Sunday.
"I grew up under him [Hunt]," Taylor recalled on Thursday.
"I was in the 20's system when he was in first grade and was looking up to him. I know what he can do on the field, he can do some freakish stuff and is always competing so we're going to have our hands full."
Ironically, the Broncos did their best to lure Taylor back to the club in 2017 after confirmation Hunt was headed to the St George Illawarra Dragons, but the Indigenous All Stars representative remained loyal to the Titans, signing a long-term extension.
Shutting down the early season form of St George Illawarra halves Hunt and Gareth Widdop looms as critical for the Titans. The pair have guided the Dragons to the top of the table after two rounds.
"You've just got to take your opportunities," Taylor said.
"Obviously, the teams in the first few rounds didn't put too much pressure on them. We're going to attack them all across the park, I think that's the biggest thing.
"They have some big busting forwards up front that we need to bring back down to earth and make sure our big boys are on the mark."
The clash on Sunday marks a special occasion for 23-year-old Taylor, who returns to his hometown to play at a ground he once called his spiritual home.
"I'm sure the community is excited about the day and everyone is looking forward to the day," he said.
"I played a few games at Clive Berghofer, that was where all our grand finals were played."
Taylor said he was a certain starter for the clash after missing last week's 20-8 loss to the Warriors and even declared he would take to the field injured if it ensured he would take part.
"It was just a precaution thing last week, a massive call for the coach to pull me out of the game," he said.
"It's 100 per cent this week and I'm going to make sure I'm not on the sidelines. No matter how bad the hammy is or anything else, I'm playing it."
The return of Taylor is another boost for the Titans outfit who also welcome back Queensland prop Jarrod Wallace for his first game of the season after serving a suspension for a shoulder charge in round 26 last year.
Wallace faces a tough challenge up front to start his season with James Graham and Paul Vaughan in strong form early.
"The last few weeks I've been anxious and nervous … not a good feeling," Wallace said.
"It's a good test for me, even with Paul Vaughan there as well. I love playing against guys like that because it brings the best out in me."