Our special partnership
One is referred to as 'son-dad' and the other as 'son-friend' and together they may have the finals fate of the Aquis Gold Coast Titans in their hands.
When Tyrone Roberts and Ashley Taylor joined the club in the off-season there was scarcely a plan for them to play football together in 2016. Roberts was a seasoned half with close to 100 NRL games who would be a guiding force for Kane Elgey while Taylor was the highly-regarded kid who was to be sent to the Intrust Super Cup for some toughening up.
But with a bond already forged off the field Elgey's season-ending knee injury in January thrust Roberts and Taylor together as on-field halves partners and their flourishing combination has taken the Titans to four wins from their past five games and a spot in the top eight.
In the 11 games that they have started together as halves partners this season the Titans have won seven games and lost just four and lost all three when either Taylor or Roberts was missing from the line-up.
Their control of the team and confidence in each other has grown as the season has unfolded but it is off the field where this combination had its genesis.
Taylor's former Brisbane Broncos teammate Travis Waddell gave his good friend Roberts the inside word on the talented 21-year-old and the former Newcastle Knight took it upon himself to take Taylor under his wing.
Or, if you prefer, become his 'son-dad'.
"I heard about him because I'm good mates with Travis Waddell and he said that Ash was a good up-and-coming player and after that we just started yarning and having a talk," said Roberts, who is trying to pass on his love of fishing as an outlet for Taylor away from football.
"When we walked in and met each other it was pretty much like we knew each other.
"It could have been because of our background. We're both Aboriginal and I think we find it easier and more comfortable to talk because it starts up a conversation, where you're from and who is your family, stuff like that.
"He was in the injury rehab group for a while so I was training with Kane but we just hung out.
"I didn't want him to feel uncomfortable because I've been in that situation where you're injured and you're coming through. I just tried to make it easier for him as a youngster coming through."
The raps on Taylor – the 2015 Holden Cup Player of the Year – were big before he got to the Gold Coast but there is no doubt his transition to the top grade has been aided by the steadying influence of Roberts.
In the early rounds Roberts took on the majority of the responsibility for the organisation of the team and kicking game in general play, roles that have become far more evenly shared as Taylor's confidence has grown.
"It's a good relationship to have," Taylor said. "Obviously he's my halves partner and we try and hang out as much as we can.
"Obviously we've both got the same schedule and he's got his young one to look after as well so I mainly go around to his house and just chill out and go to the beach or go fishing or something.
"We've just got trust in each other. Obviously trust is a big part of the game and when one of us calls the shots I've got to believe that it's the right call and I just go along with it.
"I'm not trying to over-ride his calls or anything, that's not my job. I'm here to support him and he's here to support me and we back each other up no matter what and I'm always going to be there for him."
Eager to be a leader who all players at the Titans feel comfortable to talk to, Roberts conceded that the bond with his 'son-friend' is not only one that benefits each other but also the performance of the team as a whole.
"Me and Ash have got to be tight because we've got to lead this team around and make sure that we're on each week," said the 25-year-old ahead of Sunday's crucial clash with the Raiders at Cbus Super Stadium.
"He's pretty mature for his age so he'll let me know if he feels like I'm feeling down and I know when he's feeling down. It just makes it easier if we talk to each other and we can get it off our chest.
"We can just yarn about it to each other and if there's an issue that needs to be raised I'm sure he would let me know and I could just go and talk to someone about it.
"The boys have faith in me and Ash to do the job and that's the biggest key, knowing that your halves can do the job.
"When me and Ash do go a bit quiet the forwards let us know that we're not doing our job and it makes it easier for us to step up.
"If I see him going off track or I know something's not quite with him, if he's feeling a bit under pressure because I've been through that, I've been through the tough times and good times, I just want to make sure that he's not feeling that pressure and he can just perform each week."
This story first appeared on nrl.com.au
CLICK BELOW to watch a video interview with ASH TAYLOR about his season so far and Sunday's clash with the Raiders.