As teams were preparing for the 2022 Super League season and putting together their recruitment plans, it became clear that plenty of clubs were set to be swung around by another halfback merry-go-round.
As Leeds brought in two new halves they allowed Luke Gale to join Hull FC as they let Marc Sneyd join Salford who had let Tui Lolohea join up with Theo Fages at Huddersfield. From this it was clear most teams were set for plenty of change at six and seven going into 2022.
Even table toppers Catalans were forced to make a move for a new halfback following James Maloney’s departure prompting them to sign Mitchell Pearce whilst Champions St Helens were at times rumoured to be considering halfback options before the revelation of youngster Lewis Dodd at scrum-half at the end of last year.
Meanwhile, Wigan were also exploring their options with Jackson Hastings heading to Wests Tigers for 2022 prompting them to make a move for Wakefield’s Jacob Miller before settling on Manly’s Cade Cust.
Throughout this everchanging narrative with halfbacks from all across the world changing clubs, one name that kept popping up was Ash Taylor. The scrum-half made over 100 appearances for Gold Coast from 2016 onwards becoming a key player for the club even signing a $1 million contract.
However, over the last couple of seasons he struggled to live up to the pressures such a deal brings whilst playing under former St Helens coach Justin Holbrook. It soon became clear that Holbrook was happy to let him leave and that he’d be moving on at the end of 2021 with a switch to Super League widely presumed with some believing he would be made a marquee player at a major Super League club to keep him on big money in England.
However, to the surprise of many, he instead took on a train-and-trial deal at New Zealand Warriors ahead of 2022 and has since told the media down under, including the Daily Telegraph, how refreshing it has been to no longer have the pressures of being a million dollar player.
According to zerotackle, he told the media: “My mind is a lot more relaxed than what it was. Coming off a big contract it was just a weight lifted off my shoulders.
“I still feel pressure on myself to earn a contract, but I just really want to work hard for it and show my gratefulness. I still really want to play in the NRL.
“Obviously, it is a step backwards now from where I was, but I am looking for new challenges. I am really enjoying it so far so hopefully I can get a contract here and start the 2.0.
“I love the game and still have a lot to give to the game so I just really want to give it another crack and if I get another contract I get one and if not it is not the end of the world. I have got a lot more to look forward to in life.”
Now under another former St Helens coach in the shape of 2014 Grand Final winning coach Nathan Brown, it’s believed Taylor can reignite his career with Brown telling SEN previously that he thinks Taylor can have a positive impact on the club stating that he won’t put the same kind of pressures on him that were existent at the Titans: “If he can be as consistent as what he has shown so far, we are quite positive that Ash can have a really good impact on our footy club.
“The pressure on him at our club is going to be far less than what he [previously] felt.”