While most of the world just want 2020 to end, Ash Taylor and his Gold Coast NRL teammates may look back on the past 12 months as the start of something special.
The Titans wrapped up their much-improved season with a 36-6 thrashing of finals bound Newcastle in front of excited and delighted fans at CBUS Super Stadium.
The victory equalled the club’s record of five straight wins and meant the ended the season ninth on the ladder – a huge improvement on last year’s wooden spoon.
Like the club, Taylor has been a changed man under new coach Justin Holbrook.
Having ended 2019 playing Queensland Cup for Tweed Heads and with his NRL career at a crossroads, Taylor’s final game of this season featured two tries and 128 run metres.
“My life’s just turned, probably from the worst to the best it’s been,” Taylor told AAP.
“Obviously just enjoying myself again. I love having my son around and obviously playing some good footy with the boys has really helped me back on track.”
A large part of Taylor’s career revival has been the arrival of Jamal Fogarty at the club.
Brought in by Holbrook during the COVID-19 shutdown earlier this year, Fogarty has taken on the halfback role and the organising and leadership roles in the halves.
That has freed Taylor to play a more instinctive game at five-eighth and he admits it’s a shift which couldn’t have worked out any better.
“Justin made a big call. It was all Justin that made that call to bring him in and steer the team around because things just weren’t working at the time,” the 25-year-old said.
“He’s been great, he’s stepped up when he needed to and he plays a big part in this team.”
Taylor was a part of the last Titans’ finals appearance in 2016 during his first season at the club.
Since then the Titans have finished 15th, 14th and 16th before this year’s encouraging campaign.
It’s an upward trend Taylor can see continuing into the future with Holbrook re-signed through to 2024 and David Fifita, Herman Ese’ese and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui joining the club.
“There’s gonna be spots up for grabs … whoever puts their best foot forward, Justin’s willing to play,” Taylor said.
“No matter what salary you’re on he’s willing to take the risk to put the team first.”