Five years ago I said publicly that Ash Taylor had the potential to be Darren Lockyer’s long-term successor.
That is how good I thought he was as a teenager and my opinion hasn’t changed. It is why I was so disappointed when he was let go by the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans snapped him up.
The Titans were riddled with injuries last year but still won games they shouldn’t have, which I thought was a good sign.
If they can keep their pack together I think Ash will have a field day this year. He’s the lynchpin who can take them back to the finals.
Ash can run a game. At Brisbane, we have seen Wayne Bennett come out and say Kodi Nikorima can do that, but Ash has stepped up to do that naturally. He didn’t have to be told to do it.
He is like Locky in that regard. Locky used to have an air about him as a young fella. I thought initially he was bordering on being a bit cocky, but he wasn’t. He was just confident within himself, and Ash is the same.
Ash was signed up by the Broncos as a kid and I watched him play as a junior and then in the NYC. Back in 2013, I told Rugby League Week magazine that he could inherit Locky’s mantle and I based that on what I’d seen and some mail I got on him from Michael Hancock.
Then I got to meet Ash when he did some work with us around the Deadly Choices program, because he is indigenous, and I thought he was just a lovely kid.
I watched him play for the Junior Kangaroos in 2015 and what stood out to me was his confidence and the way he did things with the ball in his hands. He just did everything so easily.
A month later he signed with the Titans and the end of that year he was named the NYC player of the year. In hindsight, it is such a shame we let him go.
I once had a beef about the Titans getting propped up by the NRL because I thought that was unfair to other clubs, but we all want the Gold Coast to work and this could be their year to get back into the finals.
Bryce Cartwright is a good signing and a ball-player in his own right and I think Bryce and Ash will complement each other, so long as they don’t overplay their hand.
I just love Ash’s vision and the way he backs himself. How many times has he crossed the line by just having a shot?
He puts the defence in two minds, a bit like Allan Langer used to. At the Broncos we didn’t know what Alf was going to do half the time and we’d swear at him, but when he scored we thought that was fair enough.
Alf was the man for us and Ash is the man for the Titans.
Off the field, I like the way he handles himself in the media because he is not scared of saying what he thinks and that shows leadership.
What has really impressed me is that he has spoken to people from other sports, like Tim Cahill from the Socceroos, to become an even better player.
He is obviously humble enough to believe he needs to take in all the advice he can, and that is a great quality to have.