The Aquis Gold Coast Titans have signed New Zealand international forward Zeb Taia and Brisbane Broncos’ Junior Kangaroos halfback Ash Taylor for the 2016-17 seasons.
Taia, 30, has been in fine form with Super League club, Catalans Dragons where he was the player of year in their finals-qualifying team last season.
The gifted back-rower had previously played 107 NRL games with Parramatta and Newcastle from 2006-12 before joining the French club. He is in his third season with Catalans where he has consistently been one of the best forwards in Super League.
“I appreciate Catalans allowing me to go home and return to the NRL,” Taia said from Perpignan.
“We have enjoyed our stay here and my goal here was to be one of the influential players in the team. In my first two seasons we made the finals which has been rewarding.
“But I have never lost the desire to play in the NRL again and this is too good an opportunity to pass up. I am grateful for Catalans for being understanding and allowing me the opportunity to return to the NRL.
“We had a young daughter when we arrived and another was born over here, so this is an opportunity for them to be closer to family too.
“Hopefully I can do some good things for the Titans as the club rebuilds.”
The Brisbane Broncos have released Toowoomba-born 20-year-old Taylor from the final year of his contract to pursue NRL experience and Titans head coach Neil Henry sees him as a player of the future. He will join local product Kane Elgey, also signed for the next two seasons, as among the best young halves prospects in the country who will wear Titans colours next season.
“Ash is yet to play in the NRL but he has shown his class and potential in the NYC competition and with the Junior Kangaroos this season and I look forward to him developing his game here,” Henry said.
“Wayne Bennett saying he is ready for the NRL is a pretty fair recommendation. He has a good kicking game, excellent speed and a genuine footy instincts and maturity – similar to Kane who has developed quickly since being brought into our side in round four.
“Both are young Queenslanders who have bright careers ahead of them.
“Zeb will also add to our forward’s experience and he feels like he still has quite a bit to offer the NRL. I expect he will become a valuable member of the Titans, like Eddy Pettybourne has done after returning from Wigan this season.”