Meninga open to swapping Taylor with NRL rival
GOLD Coast culture chief Mal Meninga is determined to get the best out of Ash Taylor but has revealed he will broker a straight swap with another NRL club if the troubled playmaker wants out of the Titans.
Meninga made it clear his priority is for Taylor to see out his $3 million deal at the Titans, with the Gold Coast continuing to provide professional counselling in the hope of restoring the confidence of their most important playmaker.
However, Meninga says he is open to the prospect of rubber-stamping a release for Taylor if the Titans or the halfback himself decides his best opportunity of a career resurrection rests with an NRL rival.
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The Sunday Mail can reveal the Broncos are prepared to issue a lifeline for Taylor to return to Red Hill next season.
But Brisbane would not offer the former Broncos under-20s young gun more than a basic $150,000 contract, beefed-up by a major subsidy from the Titans on his existing $1 million-a-season deal.
That scenario is implausible for the Titans, who see no point jettisoning Taylor if they have to write off more than $700,000 on their salary cap in 2020 as part of an early transfer.
But the possibility of a straight swap is a consideration for Meninga, who says he will entertain other playmaking options under a trade deal if Taylor feels he needs a fresh start to kickstart his teetering NRL career.
"At the end of the day, the ball is in Ash's court," Meninga said.
"Personally, I would love to see Ash succeed at the Titans and we're doing everything possible to get him back to where he needs to be.
"But if it's not working for Ash or for us then I would consider something like a straight swap if another club was interested and it worked out well for all parties.
"As everyone knows, Ash takes up a large portion of our salary cap so it's in our best interests to ensure he performs accordingly. There's no point in us just letting Ash go and having a fair amount of money sitting on our salary cap."
On the verge of a Queensland Origin debut last year, Taylor's career sensationally careered off the rails this season.
The 24-year-old was granted compassionate leave by the club in June after his confidence hit such a low he refused to take a pressure, match-levelling penalty goal in the Titans' 6-4 loss to the Cowboys.
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In recent months, Taylor has been seeing a psychologist to help him overcome his mental demons. The 2016 NRL rookie-of-the-year finished the season with six games for feeder club Tweed in the Intrust Super Cup.
Taylor will embark on a holiday to New Zealand this week to help cleanse the body and mind, and Meninga remains hopeful new coach Justin Holbrook can extract the best of the classy No. 7.
"Ash has been in a better headspace recently," Meninga said.
"We've given him a lot of support and I'm confident that under a new coach with Justin next year, it's the fresh start to help Ash get back to his best for the Titans."