GOLD Coast coach Garth Brennan has urged Ash Taylor’s teammates to give him a fair shot at emerging on top in his head-to-head clash with Newcastle skipper Mitchell Pearce at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.
Playmaker Taylor is the man Newcastle fear most, but he has attracted scrutiny for indifferent showings in back-to-back losses to Brisbane and Sydney Roosters.
“Ash has probably been a victim of trying too hard, and he probably hasn’t been getting the support he needs from some of the other players,” Brennan told the Newcastle Herald.
“We’re not a one-player team. We’ve got 17 guys who take the field, and we have some quality players in that squad.
“We’re more of a team than just Ash Taylor, and some of the others need to stand up and help him out a bit.
“He’s a very important part of our team, but he’s not everything and it will take a team effort to get the job done.”
Earlier this week, Knights coach Nathan Brown pinpointed Taylor as Gold Coast’s key player, saying: “When he is on and up, they are generally winning games … he's got the all-round ability to challenge sides in all areas.”
Brennan said the 23-year-old was perhaps putting too much pressure on himself.
“He’s his own toughest critic, Ash,” he said. “He’s a good kid and he’s very determined.
“He’s just got to relax a little bit and understand he doesn’t need to do everything, and the other players need to lend a hand.”
Taylor inspired Gold Coast’s 33-26 comeback win against the Knights at Robina in round 11, but Brennan said Newcastle would be a far more formidable team with Pearce calling the shots.
The former NSW Origin halfback returned last week after missing nine games with a pectoral injury.
His impact was immediate, scoring a try as the Knights ended a three-game losing streak with an 18-16 win against Parramatta.
“Obviously they won’t have Kalyn Ponga, but with Pearce back at the helm they’re a more controlled football team,” Brennan said.
“Someone of his experience and what’s he done in the game, he just gives them confidence. He’s a quality player and he gives that team a whole new dimension when he’s playing, there’s no doubt about that.”
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