No prizes for guessing what birthday boy Ash Taylor wished for before running out in the Gold Coast Titans’ NRL clash with Parramatta.
Still, what happened next must have exceeded even Taylor’s wildest dreams.
Taylor celebrated turning 22 with a dominant display as injury-ravaged Gold Coast caused a 26-14 boilover against the Eels.
Asked to rate the win amongt his career achievements, Taylor said: “It’s up there.
“For us to get our first win of the season and for it to be on my birthday – it’s pretty special.”
The Titans fielded the most inexperienced team in their history, with 12 of their 30-strong squad either injured or unavailable for the match.
In another blow, they also had a request to play new recruit Dale Copley knocked back by the NRL.
And their injury list only got longer when winger William Zillman (calf) lasted just 17 minutes after Parramatta jumped to a 12-0 lead.
Alarm bells were ringing.
But Taylor showed the poise – that already has him earmarked by Queensland coach Kevin Walters as the next Maroons No.7 – to spark a remarkable fightback.
His huge cut out pass helped set up debutant Tyler Cornish’s try that locked up the scores 12-12 at halftime.
The Titans then scored twice off Taylor kicks in the second stanza to put away the error-riddled Eels.
Even party poopers, Eels backrowers Tepai Moeroa and Manu Ma’u, couldn’t dampen Taylor’s celebrations with a couple of late hits after kicks.
While there is Origin hype surrounding Taylor he baulked at the notion.
“I am not going to say I am the next best Queensland halfback,” Taylor said.
“That (Origin) is a goal but there are plenty of other great halfbacks out there – Moses Mbye and Ben Hunt had a great game the other night.”
But Titans coach Neil Henry had no problem talking up Taylor after the stirring win.
“I thought Ash Taylor’s kicking game was fantastic,” Henry said.
“He will have a crack at the 40-20, he put the ball to the sideline when we needed to walk to a scrum.
“His game management is getting there as a young player and we needed him to make those plays.”
Konrad Hurrell and Ryan Simpkins had concussion tests, forcing a reshuffled line-up that at one stage featured backrowers Chris McQueen and Kevin Proctor in the centres and prop Jarrod Wallace at hooker.
Utility Tyrone Roberts will monitor a hamstring niggle after juggling hooker in attack and fullback in defence for the second straight week.
Gold Coast also blooded young forward Max King on Friday – their fifth debutant in three rounds.
“We had every reason to shut up shop 12-0 down early in the game – it’s a testament to how they hung in there,” Henry said.