Titans halfback Ash Taylor has accepted the challenge of dragging his side off the bottom of the Telstra Premiership ladder but has warned he can't do it alone.
Wearing the No.7 jersey and the tag as the highest-priced player at the club, how the Titans respond to the worst start in club history will rest largely on how quickly the 2016 Dally M Rookie of the Year can recapture the form that had him on the verge of Queensland Origin selection last year.
The 24-year-old missed the first three games of the year due to a quadriceps tendon strain suffered at training less than two weeks before the start of the season, a significant setback given he had shed six kilograms to be in the best shape since coming into the NRL.
As the losses mounted for the Titans so too did the frustration of not being able to take the field with his teammates, Taylor finally making his 2019 debut in last Friday’s 26-10 loss to the Warriors, the Titans’ fourth on the trot to leave them propping up the bottom of the competition.
Without hooker Nathan Peats through injury and prop Moeaki Fotuaika facing a one-week suspension, the Titans have an otherwise healthy squad for Friday’s clash with the Panthers at Cbus Super Stadium.
"I want to turn my game around for starters and then hopefully the team can go off the back of that," Taylor said after spending time with hundreds of kids at the Titans’ school holiday clinic on Monday.
"It was tough being out there in the first game and not being able to turn the tide but we learned a bit from the weekend with our own structures. We just need to start believing in our systems.
"I wasn't really impressed with my own game. There was a play on a cross-field kick to Dale Copley that wasn't on the mark and we could have scored off it and there was another fifth-tackle option where it was supposed to be a long kick and I nearly missed the ball altogether.
"It was my first game on the weekend and I can review that and fix up errors in my game but as a team we need to be better."
Without Taylor for the opening three rounds, the Titans struggled to post points, crossing the stripe once in their opening two games.
Third in the NRL for try assists last year with 18, Taylor is the creative force that the Titans rely on.
"I was getting frustrated sitting on the sideline but it was really up to me when I felt comfortable getting back out there," explained Taylor, who will go head-to-head with fellow prodigal talent Nathan Cleary on Friday.
"I could have taken another week if I wanted to but I was really itching to get out there a few weeks before that.
"It's not really fun watching the boys play and putting in the effort. I didn't feel rushed at all. It was all on my own terms and I'm pretty confident with the medical staff that we got it back to 100 per cent."
For the second consecutive week Mitch Rein played 80 minutes at hooker and said there was a noticeable change in communication with Taylor and Tyrone Roberts back in the halves.
"There was a lot more talk with Ash and T but they haven't played much footy together the last two weeks,” said Rein. “A bit rusty but they'll be better this week.
"As a group everyone can't wait to get back out there and get everything right."