Gold Coast Titans marquee halfback Ash Taylor will continue his transition towards an NRL return with his second appearance for the Ben Campbell Building Group Tweed Heads Seagulls against Mackay Cutters at Piggabeen Sports Complex this Saturday.
Taylor will be one of three Titans with plenty of NRL experience who will boost the seventh-placed Seagulls who are vying for their first Intrust Super Cup semi-finals appearance since 2014, with hooker Mitch Rein and back-rower Will Matthews also in the starting line-up.
The Seagulls will run out in front of several of the club’s most successful and respected former players as part of the club’s annual ‘old boys days’ with Adrian Vowles, a Queensland State of Origin representative selected from the Seagulls in 1994, and 2007 Queensland Cup premiership players Tim Maccan, Brad Davis and James Wood among those watching from the stand.
Taylor returned to playing, after a five week leave-of-absence, for Tweed against Central Queensland Capras on Sunday and was influential in the 28-12 victory. He scored a try, registered 300 kick-metres, had a try-assist, two line-break assists and one line-break as he gradually gained confidence and began to run the ball, a feature of his play when he is on-song.
Coach Ben Woolf has a riches of choices in the halves now with Luke Jurd performing well and regular No. 6 Lindon McGrady switched back to fullback and the in-form Talor Walters moved out to the wing.
Matthews has been impressive in his three games for the Tweed this season and Rein played twice earlier in the year before spending a long stretch as the Titans’ starting hooker. He was a late withdrawal last Sunday because of illness.
The Seagulls will also field skipper John Palavi and Lamar Liolevave, who have both played in the NRL, and Titans-contracted Queensland under-20s representative this season, Treymain Spry, which indicates the strength of the current side.
Woolf moved regular centre Kody Parsons and winger-centre Ioane Seiuli into the pack against the Capras with great success and will continue with the switch against the Cutters, although the final make-up of the 17 is yet to be confirmed.
The Intrust Super Cup match kicks off at 2pm with the Hastings Deering Colts side (ninth) taking on the Cutters (fifth) at 12.30pm.