Ash Taylor in action for the Gold Coast Titans last year.
Ash Taylor in action for the Gold Coast Titans last year. DAN PELED

Tallis warns Bennett: Keep your hands off Taylor

RUGBY LEAGUE: Wayne Bennett is on the hunt for a playmaker, but Gorden Tallis has warned the super coach to keep his hands off Titans young gun Ash Taylor.

Taylor's incredible 2017 rookie season has made him one of the hottest properties in the NRL, although the Titans managed to stave off the first wave of poaching raids last year, tying him up until the end of next season.

Brisbane are in the market for a No. 7 to replace Ben Hunt from 2018 onwards, with Hunt will moving south to play for St George Illawarra on a lucrative five-year deal next year.

Broncos legends Justin Hodges and Corey Parker have both offered suggestions for a replacement.

Hodges told foxsports.com.au the Broncos should lure young gun Brodie Croft north from Melbourne, while Parker says his former club needs to spend big to recruit an NRL-ready half.

Taylor, a Broncos junior who turns 22 next month, would fit the bill described by Parker and Bennett last year said the door would stay open for Taylor to return to Red Hill.

But Tallis says the talented halfback is going nowhere and will one day captain Gold Coast.

"They can try but he's contracted,” Tallis told foxsports.com.au.

"Brisbane had the opportunity but they picked Ben Hunt. It's like an ex girlfriend, they're an ex for a reason.

"Brisbane are his ex club because they didn't want to give him a crack, they thought someone else was better. Did they make the wrong decision? I don't know, that's for everybody else to say.

"But the Titans have given him a home and you would like to think that he's loyal to stay there.”

Wayne Bennett talks to Ash Taylor during a Brisbane Broncos training session in 2015.
Wayne Bennett talks to Ash Taylor during a Brisbane Broncos training session in 2015. DAVE HUNT

Taylor was thrust into the Titans' starting 17 last year when playmaker Kane Elgey went down injured during pre-season.

He ended up playing 22 games and was awarded Dally M rookie of the year, leading the team to an unlikely finals appearance, after being widely tipped to collect the wooden spoon.

Taylor has been touted for big things and Tallis says he has the attributes to lead Gold Coast long-term.

"I spent a bit of time with Ash, I see him as the future captain of the club,” Tallis said.

"I think if anybody is going to lead the Titans to a grand final it's going to be him.”

The Broncos, meanwhile, have plenty of options if they do decide to go to market for a halfback.

Chad Townsend, Luke Brooks, Josh Reynolds, Shaun Johnson, Mitchell Pearce, Tyrone Roberts, Ata Hingano, Kieran Foran and Gareth Widdop headline the plethora of halves off contract in 2017.

If they look in-house, Kodi Nikorima has been floated as a future halfback option for the club, while veteran Kiwi Benji Marshall could press his claims with a role in the team for the short term.

Taylor will line up alongside Elgey and form one of the NRL's more exciting young halves partnerships for 2017 and beyond.



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