Titans halfback Ash Taylor has turned to one of the game's all-time greatest playmakers in an attempt to escape the form slump that has plagued the start to his season and live up to his million-dollar price tag.
In his sixth game of the season on Thursday night, Taylor laid on two tries to give his side an 18-10 half-time lead against the Sharks but failed to feature in the second term as Cronulla piled on 16 unanswered points to claim the Magic Round opener at Suncorp Stadium.
The Gold Coast capitulation led to coach Garth Brennan lambasting his team as being "dumb" and "mentally soft" but he refused to lay the blame solely at the feet of Taylor.
Troubled by quadriceps and knee injuries over the opening nine weeks of the season, Taylor conceded that he has struggled to regain the confidence that had experts touting him as the game's next great half and told NRL.com that he has turned to Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston for help.
The 24-year-old had hoped to spend time with Thurston in person when the Titans were in Townsville last week but has instead had to make do with text messages as he looks for ways to rescue his side from their disastrous start to the year.
Match Highlights: Titans v Sharks
"I reached out to JT and had a couple of words to JT. He's trying to send me in the right direction," Taylor said following the 26-18 defeat.
"I tried to reach out to him in Townsville last week but obviously he's busy with Channel Nine now.
"I haven't caught up face-to-face with him but exchanged a couple of text messages with each other.
"He's just giving me pointers. Stay in the game the whole time which I tried my best tonight but obviously we've got to stick to the game-plan.
"It's just great hearing from the GOAT [greatest of all time] himself. He's well respected and hopefully the next Immortal, reads the game better than anyone so who else to pick their brain?"
Third in try assists last season despite the Titans finishing in 14th position, Taylor had just two to his name this year prior to Thursday night but doubled his tally for 2019 in the first half, coming up with the pass for Dale Copley and a kick for Tyrone Peachey to score.
A perfectly-placed kick was unlucky to not get a result for the Titans when Sharks winger Aaron Gray accidentally touched the bouncing ball while he had a foot on the sideline and a touch-finder early in the second half set the right tone to start the second term.
But as the Sharks fought their way back into the contest Taylor was unable to wrest momentum back for his team and admitted that the side failed to cope with the pressure.
"I done a few positive things in the first half and got some good kicks away," Taylor said.
"There were two kicks that got deflected, one didn't make it into the in-goal so there's still improvement there.
Campbell: Titans missing confidence
"It's a step in the right direction for me but we need to stand up as a team and be better in that second half.
"We need some more communication out on the field and that's got to start with me.
"There were some plays out there that we don't normally do. I think we cracked under pressure, didn't stick to what was working for us in the first half.
"We'll go back to the drawing board and review the game and see where we can be better."
Brennan admitted that poor game management in the final 20 minutes was a major factor in the win slipping away but wouldn't allow Taylor to take all the blame.
"Ash can't wear that all on himself, I'm not going to let him wear that on himself," said a livid Brennan.
"I thought he did some good stuff there tonight Ash and he's had a tough start to the year.
"I know he's been criticised but he's had a lot of injuries at the start. He's had a disjointed start to his year but tonight I thought he showed some good signs.
"Probably lacked a bit of game management at times and Cronulla did that a lot better and it showed."