The Gold Coast Titans have gone back to the future with halves Kane Elgey and Ash Taylor at their creative best while playing on the same side of the field like an old-fashioned halves pairing.
Elgey and Taylor were on song in the 32-20 win over Manly in Gladstone on Sunday. They also varied their combination at times with Elgey going into first receiver and passing the ball to Taylor.
It is not a new development that halves play together on the same side of the field. Just think Ricky Stuart and Laurie Daley at the Canberra Raiders and Allan Langer and Wally Lewis for the Brisbane Broncos.
"To separate the halves is the way the game changed, but the Titans have two talented blokes working together to provide opportunities for those outside them," Lewis, a former Gold Coast captain, told NRL.com.
"When [Elgey and Taylor] play alongside each other they become so much more creative and the style of football they play is almost identical, so working in together is increasing the benefit for the entire side.
"It is more difficult for opposition defences because instead of working out the creative skills of one of those halves, they have got to work out two of them."
Taylor noted how the dominance of the Dragons and Warriors this season had come on the back of the Gareth Widdop-Ben Hunt and Blake Green-Shaun Johnson pairings playing together a lot more rather than just on the left or right.
"When they connect together they are more dangerous and are pulling off some great tries," Taylor told NRL.com.
"Kane and I are building a good combination but we are a work in progress and as the season goes on hopefully we can become a bigger threat like Hunt and Widdop.
"We do have our structures in place but we are more of a threat when we have the ball in our hands and play together.
"It all works a lot smoother when you go from side to side and want to stretch sides out. It brings us both onto the ball and we are getting good service off each other."
Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan said it was a no-brainer for his halves to play together and happily affords them free rein to be entertainers within certain parameters.
"I want to entertain and to do that you need your two ball players playing together," Brennan told NRL.com.
"I have given Kane and Ash that freedom where if they see something in front of them to have a crack at it."
The Titans lost their way in the second half against Manly and Brennan was displeased with what he called "a dog's breakfast of a set in attack".
"All I encourage them to do is play with our eyes up but within our structures so everyone knows what is going on and we are all on the same page," Brennan said.
Lewis said it was no surprise that the best performed halves in the Telstra Premiership were playing more in the old style formation.
"We trained and played like that. That is just the way it was," the rugby league Immortal said of his own combination with Langer.
"I can understand the construction of the modern-day game in defence, but I still think there is an opportunity to be open slather in attack and not have restrictions on one side.
"Some of the [halves] you see that are stuck on one side of the field look lost. Sure, have the lock-in schedule to fall back on as a safety plan and I have no problem with that, but to have them nailed down to one side of the field is a restriction of their creativity and talent."
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