Big winners and losers of NRL trials
AFTER demanding marquee-player dollars, Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan says re-signed halfback Ash Taylor must now "walk the walk" and produce marquee-player form.
Brennan challenged Taylor to take ownership of the Titans after a hot and cold display in Saturday's 20-14 NRL trial loss to the Warriors at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
It was Taylor's first game since signing a three-year, $1 million-plus a season deal until the end of 2021 last October.
"If you are going to put your hand out for it you've got to walk the walk," Brennan said of Taylor.
"Look, I have got the utmost confidence he will get there.
"(But) there is a lot of work to be done yet with Ash.
"You watch (Johnathan) Thurston and in the 80th minute (of Friday's testimonial) he comes up with a freakish play, and Ash has aspirations to get to those heights.
"He needs to watch JT and learn how to control a football match and come up with the right play at the right time."
Taylor showed flashes of brilliance in his first hitout of 2018, scoring the opening try of their trial against the Warriors.
But Brennan demanded more from the Titans' highest paid player.
"With Ash, I've said all along, he's got all the accolades and he's got the salary but he needs to start stepping up and owning this football team," he said.
"I thought he did it in patches (against the Warriors) but when you ask your halfback to own your football team he needs to do it for 80 minutes.
"Last year he had a senior half around him in (five-eighth) Tyrone (Roberts).
"This year he is the senior half and he needs to own the footy team - but I am confident he can do that."
The Warriors trial was their final hitout before their March 11 season opener against Canberra.
They were thrashed 38-10 by Brisbane in their other trial.
The Titans' concerning form is one of several big talking points to emerge from the weekend's trials with some big winners and losers already standing out.
WINNERS FROM THE WEEKEND TRIALS
- Expectations are higher than ever at the Sydney Roosters but Robinson's recruits showed plenty of promise in their 28-26 win over Manly. James Tedesco scored two tries - including a chip-and-chase to give his team the lead - while Cooper Cronk looked comfortable working with hooker Jake Friend.
- The Eels were as slick as any team could in February in their 26-6 win over Newcastle. Bevan French was the standout at fullback with Clinton Gutherson still injured, while Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses picked up where they left off at the end of last season. Jarryd Hayne got through his return to the Eels team unscathed.
- Lachlan Croker has given Manly fans hope that there will be no halves crisis at the club this season. The Manly No. 6 jersey is his after the Sea Eagles looked just as good in attack against the Sydney Roosters as they did last year with Blake Green at five-eighth. Croker had plenty of involvement and coach Trent Barrett was happy with his spine as Manly put on five tries.
- The uncertainty behind Cronulla's fullback position has been cleared up in emphatic fashion. Any questions over Cronulla's No. 1 jersey were officially put to bed after Kangaroos back Valentine Holmes scored two tries in the Sharks' 24-12 win over the Wests Tigers. Matt Moylan and Chad Townsend also got through their second game together in the halves.
LOSERS FROM THE WEEKEND TRIALS
- There have to be concerns at the Panthers after their near full- strength team were easily disposed of by a second-string Canterbury side at Belmore. The Bulldogs scored 24 unanswered points after Penrith opened the scoring, to finish 24-10 victors with their big guns watching on.
- The Knights copped a wake-up call in their 20-point defeat to Parramatta. The most-hyped team of the summer, the Knights conceded six consecutive tries to the Eels as star recruits Mitchell Pearce, Connor Watson and Kalyn Ponga had few opportunities in attack, just two weeks after they knocked over Melbourne.