Two tries, two try assists and a full 80-minute performance from Dave Taylor in the Queensland Cup has not earned the fallen Gold Coast utility an automatic return to the NRL.
Instead, the former State of Origin forward will have to rely on injuries to teammates Nate Myles and Ryan James to open up a spot in the Titans team for Monday’s clash with Parramatta.
Dumped by coach Neil Henry last week, Taylor was banished to Tweed Heads and relished in the freedom afforded to him in the second-tier competition, with his devil-may-care approach in attack helping set up a 30-16 win over Wynnum-Manly at the weekend.
But the 27-year-old is still yet to win over Henry, who has named Taylor on an extended bench for the Eels game.
“He would say it was okay, it wasn’t outstanding,” Henry said when asked about Taylor’s performance.
“He had a couple of nervous touches early in greasy conditions and certainly finished the game strongly.
“It was a good hit-out for him, it was good for him to play 80 minutes which he hasn’t done in a while. I think he got some confidence out of it.”
Taylor faces an uncertain future on the Gold Coast. The Titans have told the 123kg wrecking ball to find another club despite having a year left on his contract.
He has been linked with a move to the English Super League and even a code-switch to rugby union but has not given up hope of re-establishing himself as an NRL force.
To do that, Henry believes Taylor needs to focus more on defence, and less on indulging his desire to play like a five-eighth.
“It’s the quality of his play that’s holding him back a bit,” he said.
“Where he needs to improve is effort-on-effort stuff, defensive reads.
“He’s always been able to carry the ball, but it’s the other part of the game he needs to get right.”
Henry said Taylor was unlikely to face Parramatta unless either Myles or James are ruled out.
Myles and James both picked up shoulder injuries in the loss to Brisbane last week but the Titans are still waiting on scans to determine the full extent of the damage. Both have been named to start against the Eels.
Broncos halfback Ben Hunt said it was “sad” to see Taylor, his former halves partner back in high school, struggling with his football.
“Dave Taylor was pretty much the other half with me … he was throwing the ball around, chip chasing, doing what he wanted at school,” Hunt said.
“He’s obviously a great talent, Dave, and it’s back on him to really take control of himself and how he wants to play his football.
“If he wants to make it, I believe he’ll make it.”