How Taylor learnt to play through the pain
He was lauded for his performances on the field with the Dally M Rookie of the Year trophy but Gold Coast Titans half Ashley Taylor insists his greatest accomplishment in 2016 was staying on the field at all.
Since returning to pre-season training three weeks ago Taylor has been on a restricted regime following off-season groin surgery that the Titans medical staff also will help alleviate issues he was experiencing with his hips.
Hopeful of returning to full training prior to the Christmas break and confident that he will be fit to make his Indigenous All Stars debut if selected in February, Taylor had to be talked out of mid-season surgery by the Titans medical team.
Insisting they could manage the injury through until the end of the season when it flared up in late June, the Titans medical staff kept the 21-year-old from going under the knife and in the process armed him with the belief that he can play through the pain.
"Obviously week-in and week-out is very tough and I didn't know I had it in me to keep coming to training and to keep playing every week because I didn't know how hard it was on the players beforehand," said Taylor, who played 22 of Gold Coast's 25 games but was unable to get through the elimination final loss to the Broncos.
"When I was at the Broncos they'd play week in and week out and I didn't realise why they were so sore but now I do because it's obviously very tough and you have to compete as much as you can each week.
"No one's 100 per cent fit in every game, you've got little bumps and bruises from the week before so I just wanted to toughen up a little.
"As my dad would say, toughen up and keep playing on like I did. Because it was my first NRL season I was just really excited to play each game."
As he came up through the ranks at the Broncos Taylor was beset by shoulder problems and said that the pain of his groin injury was initially so severe that he asked to have the surgery immediately.
"When I first did it I was in a lot of discomfort and I wanted the surgery straight away but the physios really thought I could get through the season without the surgery and I did," he said.
"They did everything they could to keep me on the field which I'm very grateful for, that they gave me the opportunity to keep playing.
"People probably don't see exactly how you're feeling. I was very sore even just trying to get out of bed every morning.
"To come to training was very hard on the body but I was lucky enough to get the operation and it feels a hundred times better."
To date Taylor has not participated in any of the Titans ballwork sessions but doesn't believe he has fallen down in the pecking order behind Tyrone Roberts and Kane Elgey for a starting spot in the halves.
"Once I get back I'm going to train the house down as well," Taylor insisted.
"I want to get my body right first and then when I get back I'm not going to take a step back from my position.
"We've grown close (Taylor and Roberts) over the last year and it will be very sad if we break that combination up but it's just about working hard and fighting for those positions."
This article first appeared on NRL.com