Brennan fired up by Ash criticism
TITANS coach Garth Brennan has hit out at critics of Ash Taylor and challenged his senior players to help the besieged playmaker in Friday night's clash against strife-torn Manly at Brookvale.
Taylor has made a whopping 45 errors this season, the most of any halfback in the NRL, as he prepares for a daunting scrumbase duel with Queensland Origin No.7 Daly Cherry-Evans.
The individual clash between the reigning Queensland halfback and the man who aspires to one day wear Maroon will have a large bearing on whether Manly or the Titans avoid the dreaded wooden-spoon.
The Titans and Manly are locked on 16 competition points, just one win ahead of last-placed North Queensland, and Brennan urged his troops to ease the strain on 23-year-old Taylor.
"Ash has copped a lot of criticism this year," Brennan said.
"He understands he has areas in his game to work on. He makes errors but if you touch the ball more than everyone else, you will make errors.
"James Maloney (Penrith's NSW Origin playmaker) and some of the best halves in the comp also make errors.
"Ash is not where he needs to be but he loves the team and he needs help around him.
"Kane (Elgey, Taylor's halves partner), AJ (Brimson, fullback) and our hookers (Nathan Peats and Mitch Rein) have to take responsibility as well.
"Some of our senior leaders need to take the pressure off Ash. The criticism of him is quite harsh."
While Taylor is one of the highest paid players in the league, Brennan says his $3 million halfback cannot be compared to more senior playmaking rivals such as Cherry-Evans and Newcastle's Mitchell Pearce.
"People compare Ash to Mitchell Pearce and the senior halves in the comp," Brennan said.
"That's unfair considering Pearce has played 250 NRL games and 'DCE' (Cherry-Evans) has been around a long time.
"Pearce developed under Braith Anasta (former NSW pivot) and DCE developed with Kieran Foran. Ash is only 68 games into his career and hasn't had a senior half guiding him through."
Brennan hopes the clash will extract the best of Taylor's scrumbase cohort Elgey. The former Australian Schoolboy signed a two-year deal with Manly last week and gets the chance to impress against his future club.
"Kane is very level-headed young man," Brennan said.
"He wants to finish the year strongly.
"It's sad to see him move on but a change for Kane might be what he's looking for to get his love back for the game."