Titans halfback Ashley Taylor.
Titans halfback Ashley Taylor. DAVE HUNT

Titans to give Taylor free rein against Souths

ASHLEY Taylor has been handed total licence to call the shots against South Sydney as the undermanned Titans attempt to cause a massive upset against a full-strength Rabbitohs tonight.

The Gold Coast has been decimated by Origin representation and injury, with Taylor the only regular member of the Titans' spine left to face the Rabbitohs.

But in a boost for the young gun's confidence, coach Neil Henry has granted him full licence to run the team and roam both sides of the ruck, with back-rower Chris McQueen to play a running role at five-eighth.

"Chris will rotate around there. We'll carry an extra forward and it will give Ash Taylor an opportunity to play both sides of the ruck," Henry said.

"It is (Taylor's) opportunity to (own the team) and also alleviate a bit of pressure on Pat Politoni coming in."

Politoni will make his Titans debut at hooker, finally getting his chance after recovering from a broken arm suffered in the pre-season.

Taylor started the season with a rush, his running and kicking games on song, and he leads the league in try assists, with 19.

But he has not produced a try assist in his past two matches - games in which he has not been the only decision-making voice on the field.

Taylor's kicking game, in particular, will have to be better tonight if the Titans are to have any chance of keeping their slim finals hopes alive with an upset in Sydney.

"I thought he was quiet last week," Henry said of Taylor's game in the loss to the Warriors.

"He was the first to admit his kicking game wasn't great.

"He kicked one out on the full.

"We didn't really kick to corners and do the best we could with our possession.

"We made a number of unforced errors with the ball and rushed things.

"We didn't mount much pressure on the Warriors.

"We need to do much better against Souths. I thought they were quite energetic against the Broncos and were a little bit unlucky."

Jamal Fogarty will not play tonight but will have a contract registered by the Titans with halves Kane Elgey (sternum) and Tyrone Roberts (shoulder) continuing to battle injuries.

Eddy Pettybourne gets his second run of the season and only his third game since round 21 last year after strong showings for Tweed in the Queensland Cup.

Captain Ryan James was glad to see the veteran return, and is backing him to retain his place if he performs well.

"It's good to get some of those experienced players back like Eddy Pettybourne, who's been playing at Tweed for a long time, and I think has got a well-deserved shot at NRL again," James said.

"I think he'll bring a lot of impact to our game and could potentially be there for the rest of the year."

News Corp Australia


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