Ash injection: Brennan declares Titans now Taylor’s team
ROOKIE coach Garth Brennan has put his short-term future into the hands of 22-year-old Ashley Taylor, declaring that his star halfback will be asked to make the Titans team his own in 2018.
Entering his third full year in the top grade, Taylor enters the new year fresh off signing a three-year contract extension that keeps him on the Gold Coast until at least the end of the 2021 season.
If the 2016 NRL Rookie of the Year continues on the same trajectory Brennan will be one of the big beneficiaries, his previous relationship with Taylor in a mentoring capacity a major positive during the Titans' search for a replacement for the sacked Neil Henry.
Reiterating his view that Taylor was still too young to be burdened with the responsibilities of captaincy for the time being, Brennan did state that the team will be Taylor's to run when their season kicks off against the Raiders on March 10.
"He's only a kid but I've spoken to him one on one a fair bit and spoken to him as a halfback, that he needs to own this football team," Brennan told Big Sports Breakfast radio.
"It needs to be his team and he needs to run it even though he's not the captain.
"I would never put that pressure on him at this stage of his career, but who's to say one day he might not end up being that captain of the club.
"But at this stage I just him to focus on running the football team.
"I think he can be an absolute superstar of the game one day but there's a lot of work to be done.
"Ash knows that and I've really seen him knuckle down in the pre-season.
"He's training the house down, he's in probably the best shape he's been and he's really started to take on that ownership of the team role that I've asked him to do.
"It's exciting for me to see where Ash can take his game."
It's a role that Taylor is ready to accept as he seeks to forge a halves partnership with Kane Elgey that club officials hope will provide the backbone of the team for the foreseeable future.
The doubt over Elgey's place in the team last year has been erased following the departure of Tyrone Roberts to Super League and Taylor knows the next step in his evolution is to take control of the fortunes of a team few are expecting to play finals football in 2018.
"I want to be the voice on the field and I want to be in and around the ball whenever I can be," Taylor told foxsports.com.au.
"I will be around the ball a lot more and have my hands on it and working a lot more off the ball as well.
"We're not locked on one side so wherever we end up on the field is where we end up.
"Obviously we have our little combinations on our edges but (Brennan) has given us the ticket to play footy.
"It's time now that I bring my game together.
"I've worked on a lot of attack and a lot of defence over the last two years and I just want to keep moving forward."
An indigenous All Stars representative in 2017 who will join the Queensland Emerging Origin camp later this month, Taylor regularly watches tapes of his own games and those of others to further his rugby league education.
But while watching video can tell you a lot, Taylor says the best method of learning is on-the-job training and adapting to game situations as they arise.
"You can learn each week. There are different scenarios. It can be a slow, grinding game, it could be a fast game where there is a lot more room on the outside. There's still a lot more to learn," Taylor said.
"You learn just by playing and you can pick up a lot from other games as well.
"If you could tell the way the game's going to go you'd be a mind reader and you'd want to change direction in your career.
"You've just got to wait until you get into the grind of the game because honestly it can change from one team doing one structure and they might change their structures to play against us.
"It changes every week and you've got to adapt to that structure as you're going."