Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan won't rush star halfback Ashley Taylor back until he is given the all clear by health professionals connected to the club.
Aside from a dubious-looking moustache, Taylor cut a buoyant figure at training on Monday. That was a week after returning from a self-imposed break to address personal issues and relieve some of the pressure that was weighing heavily upon him.
He spent the time away visiting family and friends in St George, Lightning Ridge and Brisbane getting his hands dirty doing manual labour. That was a far cry from the bright lights and hero worship of the NRL.
Teammates have commented on a happier Taylor in and around the playing group but while he was sharp in his work on Monday is no certainty to return to face the Sea Eagles on Saturday.
The 24-year-old has not played since giving up the shot at penalty goal that could have seen the Titans draw level with the Cowboys in their 6-4 loss in round 12 but Brennan told NRL.com that he will be guided by the professionals before considering him for selection.
"I'm not going to rush Ash," Brennan said.
"Clearly there were some issues that he needed to address and while it's great to have him back around the group I have to be guided by the professionals as to when he is able to come back into the team.
"The most important thing is that Ash is happy playing footy again. When that time comes he’ll be considered for selection but I won't be rushing him."
Few know better the intensity of the scrutiny that comes with playing in the NRL than Bryce Cartwright.
Following his heralded arrival prior to the 2018 season, Cartwright's struggles resulted in a stint playing for Tweed Heads in the Intrust Super Cup.
It's the path Taylor could also take prior to an NRL return but Cartwright insisted that the team is well served in the meantime with Ryley Jacks wearing the No.7 jersey.
"Ryley's doing a really good job," Cartwright said.
"They're probably two very different players where Ash and Tyrone [Roberts] are pretty similar. Ryley's a more controlled sort of player and has been playing really well so I'm not too sure what 'Brenno' is going to do there.
"It's just nice to see Ash with a smile on his face now and really happy. It looks like he's enjoying himself out on the field too.
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"It was obviously getting to him. He noticed that himself and I think other people were noticing that as well.
“He's probably happier than he was before, definitely. He's looking real sharp at training too so it's exciting having him back and hopefully, we'll see him on the field soon.
"Hopefully he can translate that onto the footy field."
Winger Anthony Don also likes what he is seeing from Taylor both on and off the field and was confident that if called upon he could come straight back into the NRL side.
"If he gets picked and is the man Garth thinks is right for the spot he'll definitely be good enough to come in," Don said.
"He's a skilful player. Everyone knows how good he is so it will be no doubt that he could walk straight back in if that's what the coaches want to do.
The most important thing is that Ash is happy playing footy againTitans coach Garth Brennan
"He was really sharp out there today and taking the line on when we had the ball.
"I'm not going to comment too much on how important [the time away] was for him, that's for him to say, but he looked really happy out there ... I just want him to enjoy the game and have fun while he's playing.”
Prop forward Max King has played his last game for the Titans and is expected to be signed by the Storm on Monday while English international Kallum Watkins is not expected to arrive on the Gold Coast until next week ahead of a possible NRL debut in round 17 against the Panthers.