His own start to pre-season was delayed by off-season groin surgeries and with three high-profile teammates currently sidelined, Titans half Ashley Taylor admits time is running out to form meaningful combinations prior to Round 1.
Taylor took a break from his duties with the Titans to join the Queensland Maroons Emerging Origin camp at RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast at the weekend as coach Kevin Walters ponders what life will be like in the post Johnathan Thurston era next year.
After a rigorous pre-season at their respective clubs the 20-man squad of future Maroons gathered not to work on the field but to participate in a variety of activities designed to further indoctrinate them in the ways of Queenslanders.
Back in club land and with less than a week before teams gather in Auckland for the Downer NRL Auckland Nines, Taylor is marshalling a right side attack at the Titans currently missing two of its most important facets.
Kevin Proctor and Konrad Hurrell are both sidelined with knee injuries – as is English recruit Dan Sarginson – and Taylor conceded that their absences on the training paddock are being felt.
"It will take a toll on the team but they're back running in a couple of weeks," Taylor said of the injury interruptions.
"They're going to be part of the team – they just can't do full training right now – so as long as we get a few weeks under our belt on our side hopefully I'm on that right edge with 'KP' (Proctor) and Koni."
Despite the disruption, Taylor is already getting an understanding of how Proctor and Hurrell like to play and that two weeks of intensive training before Round 1 should be enough to form up their right edge.
"You just need to get to know each other's strengths and weaknesses, that's the main thing," said the reigning Dally M Rookie of the Year.
"Koni loves to run the ball and that's one of his strengths so we do have to give him the ball.
"Obviously 'KP' is a good runner and good defensively as well so as long as we work hard defensively together it all should gel and we should have a good edge."
Complicating matters is Taylor's pre-season commitments that could include the Nines and then a week away with the Indigenous All Stars team in Newcastle.
Taylor resumed full training prior to Christmas and is hopeful of being given the all clear by the medical staff and coach Neil Henry to play in the Nines and All Stars weekends in consecutive weeks.
"I think I should be ready by the time the Nines comes around. Obviously it's next weekend and I'm just looking forward to hopefully being a part of that and then I've got All Stars after that as well," said the 21-year-old.
"Obviously the games at the Nines are only nine minutes but it's pretty tough because you've got to make your one-on-one tackles and it's a lot harder than playing 13-man when you know you've got someone beside you tackling with you.
"I really haven't had a chat to [Henry] about the season or about the Nines so hopefully when the time come that he announces the team that I'm in the team and really looking forward to that and All Stars as well."
This article first appeared on NRL.com