Ash Taylor not shy about Maroons ambition
ASH Taylor has declared he is ready to make his Queensland Origin debut.
The Titans gun has emerged as a contender for a spot in the Maroons halves, following a consistent start to his season which has seen him lead his side to back-to-back wins over the last two rounds.
While Ben Hunt, Michael Morgan and Cameron Munster are the three frontrunners for the halves spots left vacant by Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, Taylor is making his own case.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters has certainly taken notice, claiming the Gold Coast star is a dark horse for a spot.
Maroons selector Darren Lockyer said last month that he thought Taylor was another year away from Origin footy, but that is not the opinion of Walters.
And when asked if he thought he could handle the step up to representative level, the response from Taylor was an emphatic "yes".
"That's my biggest goal," Taylor said of an Origin debut.
"I set myself little targets through the year but that's one of the major ones. If I hit one of those on the head, you know it's going well.
"For now I want to worry about the Titans and keep winning games for the Titans. If (Origin) comes along, it comes along."
Taylor is not getting too big for his boots however, with the young half critical of his performance against the Sea Eagles on Sunday.
While many applauded him for his composure to keep the Gold Coast in the lead against a resurgent Manly in the second half, Taylor said he was disappointed to make three errors, including throwing an intercept pass to Daly Cherry-Evans.
However, it is this type of self-evaluation that could appeal to the Queensland selectors, with Walters admitting maturity and confidence are qualities they are looking for in the halves.
Walters told The Courier-Mail that Taylor was a definite dark horse and had greatly impressed over the opening five rounds of the competition.
"He's been very consistent which is what you want to see and expect from a player of Ash's calibre," he said.
"To be selected they need to be confident about what they're doing ... he has a lot of skills and you like to see that level of consistency as he's getting older.
"He needs to show more of the same he's been doing (to be selected).
"Defence is one thing everyone gets scrutinised a lot for at that level and the other is being a good, consistent player every week and coming up with the right moments in a game.
"The No. 7 jumper comes with a lot of responsibility but Ash is accepting what comes with that.
"Over the weekend he was very much involved in everything which is what you want to see."
Meanwhile, the Titans could be without skipper Ryan James in Sunday's showdown with the Panthers, after was slapped James with a grade one dangerous contact charge for a hit on Manly five-eighth Lachlan Croker.
Even with an early plea, James is facing up to one week on the sideline for the incident.