Brennan: I’ll axe Ash if I have to
TITANS coach Garth Brennan has warned halfback Ash Taylor he faces the axe if he doesn't live up to his $1 million-a-season salary this year.
Taylor is set to make his first appearance of the year in Saturday's final trial hitout against the Broncos at Cbus Super Stadium.
The 23-year-old playmaker has been sidelined after a minor shoulder operation late in the pre-season and did not play in last Saturday's trial loss to the Cowboys.
Taylor is entering the first season of a $3 million contract which has made him the highest paid player at the Gold Coast.
The former Broncos junior has been earmarked as a future Queensland Origin halfback and now has 70 NRL games under his belt.
The Titans have spent big on securing Taylor, but Brennan reckons that doesn't mean he is a selection untouchable.
Brennan has brought Tyrone Roberts back to the Titans this year, signed Ryley Jacks from Melbourne, recruited NSW Origin utility Tyrone Peachey from Penrith and also has a rising star in AJ Brimson at his disposal.
"All the spots are up for grabs," Brennan said.
"Ash is our marquee player and the highest paid in the club, but I showed last year that it doesn't matter what you're on, if you don't play well you won't get picked.
"This year I have the luxury that if Ash's form doesn't warrant being picked, there are some genuine options to fill that hole.
"We're all hoping Ash can reach the levels we hope he can reach.
"No one is safe. It's not a threat, but we've got the luxury this year with some depth in positions.
"You're not getting picked on salary or reputation. You're being picked on form. If your form doesn't warrant being picked then you won't be picked.
"That's how I operate. I always have. That's the fair way.
"Everyone knows where they stand. Whether it was Koni (Konrad Hurrell), (Kane) Elgey, Bryce (Cartwright), (Leilani) Latu … their form wasn't up to scratch last year and I couldn't keep picking them on reputation or salary.
"We've got to win. It's not about reputations or salary. The NRL is about results."
Taylor has had a rollercoaster NRL career since debuting for the Broncos in 2015.
He was crowned the Dally M rookie of the year in 2016 after helping the Titans qualify for the finals for the first time since 2010.
Taylor played every game in the Gold Coast's doomed 2017 season which eventually saw coach Neil Henry sacked and struggled for consistency last year.
Despite his tender age, the Titans have relied on Taylor to produce the bulk of their points due to a lack of attacking options.
But Brennan said it is a different story this year following the addition of Peachey and return of Roberts.
"He's got some players around him this year that can take a bit of pressure off him," he said.
"Tyrone Peachey is the big key on that one. He is a game breaker. Tyrone doesn't stick to his edge, he will come looking for the football.
"Instead of everyone turning to Ash when the game is on the line, we've got a few guys that can take a bit of pressure off Ash.
"We didn't have that last year. It was basically the Ash show and if he didn't aim up we got beaten."
Roberts is expected to get first crack at the No.6 jersey alongside Taylor, with Brimson to return from a shoulder reconstruction as a bench utility.