Ash Taylor knows he has a lot of hard work ahead of him. Image: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Ash Taylor knows he has a lot of hard work ahead of him. Image: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Taylor: ‘I’ve never been that low in my career’

TITANS halfback Ash Taylor has spoken of his mission to live up to his $3 million contract after bouncing back from the lowest point of his career.

Taylor is racing to prove his fitness for Sunday's Round 1 NRL clash against Canberra at Cbus Super Stadium after being struck down by illness and injury.

The Gold Coast No.7 has been battling a virus and thigh injury this week and needs to pass a fitness test at training on Saturday morning to be cleared to face the Raiders.

Taylor will celebrate his 24th birthday on Sunday and would love nothing more than to kick off the Gold Coast's 2019 NRL campaign with a victory on home soil.

Taylor is in the first year of a $1 million-a-season contract, making him the Gold Coast's highest-paid player and one of the NRL's elite earners.

With 70 NRL appearances next to his name, Taylor is still in the infancy of his career, however the Titans are expecting him to be a dominant player in 2019.

He kicked off last season with a match-winning performance against the Raiders, but struggled for consistency as his form faded despite being in Queensland Origin contention.

Taylor said last year was the toughest of his blossoming career, but he was ready to live up to the hype.

The fullback looks sharper from all his preseason work. Image: Adam Head
The fullback looks sharper from all his preseason work. Image: Adam Head

"I want to improve on last year, I started well last year and faded away a little bit," Taylor told The Courier-Mail.

"There was a lot of pressure on me to perform and I took that on.

"It was just a slump in my career. I've never been that low in my career before and it was tough trying to pick it back up.

"I need to do a better job this year. I'm better for it. I'm more experienced and have had another pre-season under my belt where I have trained my backside off."

Taylor has stripped 5kg under the Gold Coast's new fitness regimen and is better prepared for the rigours of the NRL than ever.

The expectation that comes with a big contract has been a weight. Image: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
The expectation that comes with a big contract has been a weight. Image: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

But despite his lofty salary, the former Brisbane Broncos junior is adamant he cannot carry the Titans on his own.

The return of close friend Tyrone Roberts in the No. 6 jersey has alleviated some of the pressure on Taylor, and the Gold Coast has recruited well with NSW Origin utility Tyrone Peachey another attacking threat.

"You can't really go well if the rest of the team ain't going well," Taylor said.

"There are 13 players out on that field, people forget that. People tend to make mistakes and that's part of the game.

"I'm playing 5kg lighter than I was last year. I've worked hard on my off-field stuff to make sure I'm playing consistent every week."

Tyrone Roberts can be a big support for Taylor. Image: Adam Head
Tyrone Roberts can be a big support for Taylor. Image: Adam Head

Taylor and Roberts - who spent last year in England with the Warrington Wolves - were the play-making combination that guided the Titans to the 2016 finals, albeit with a little help from Parramatta's salary cap penalty.

The Indigenous All Stars representatives relish playing alongside each other, with Roberts saying he was ready to lead the Gold Coast back into the promised land.

"We have had success, it's a connection we have," Roberts said.

"I feel more hungry now, I'm glad to be back and playing NRL.

"It is a little bit different now. There was a lot of older leaders in the side when I left (at the end of 2017) and they're all gone now.

"This is a young crop that is hungry. We're always trying to win whatever we are doing.

"It's a different culture and feeling. We can get better."

Roberts was man-of-the-match in his All Stars return last month, and Titans coach Garth Brennan said he expected the 138-game NRL playmaker to lift his team.

"Tyrone will have an impact on the whole team, not just Ash," he said.

"He's a couple of years on from when he was here last time.

"He will bring experience and a really good kicking game. He can take pressure off Ash and AJ (Brimson) and some stability to the team which we didn't have last year."

News Corp Australia

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