Ashley Taylor says he is not playing as well as in his rookie season and needs to improve ahead of finals push

ASH Taylor believes he is not playing as well as in his rookie year and knows he has to improve if he is to lead the Titans’ late charge to the finals.

Taylor, the NRL’s rookie of the year last year, is a massively harsh marker given he leads the league in try assists and is relentlessly targeted by opposition teams playing the Titans.

But Taylor harbours ambitions to be among the league’s best halves and the simple pass mark that might satisfy other youngsters will not fly with him.

The Titans face a tough task to repeat last year’s effort of making the finals and if they are to get there, much of the pressure will fall squarely on Taylor. But it’s a challenge he’s up for.

“I just have to adapt to it,” he said.

“There’s going to be a lot of heat coming from the players and from the other teams knowing that we are trying to make the eight and they’re going to come at us to try and stop us.

“Obviously last year was my first year and people didn’t know what to expect.

“It’s more of a challenge for me now to try and not be so (predictable), I need to change it up every week.

“Obviously I want to be consistent winning games and playing good but you’ve got to change up your tactics a bit and bring things into your game a bit that other teams don’t think you have.”

Taylor works consistently on honing his game, from completing training extras to pouring through hours of match video to gain any advantage he can.

And while he’s happy enough with how he’s going, he knows there’s always room for improvement.

“I don’t think I’m going as good as last year but I just need to keep my head down and keep moving forward,” Taylor said.

“I think my last play options this year haven’t been as good as last year and I haven’t been putting the kicks on the money and I’m not finishing off tackles as good.

“It’s just little things but … I’m the one that knows what’s going on on the field and I’m my worst critic and I think I need to be to be at my best.

“It’s what I’m going to keep doing and keep working on my game to get better and better each week.”

The Gold Coast No.7, a proud indigenous man, was front and centre at the club’s NAIDOC week celebrations at Mudgeeraba yesterday, meeting fans at Firth Park.

And while he gets to put his feet up in a bye week, Taylor is casting his mind ahead to next week’s showdown against premiers Cronulla and the Titans’ run home.

“The break can be good for a few guys but in the situation we’re in, we need to keep winning games and we were going on a bit of a run and unfortunately the bye did come for us,” he said of the Coast’s stalled momentum.

“I guess it’s time to throw the legs up and enjoy the week off because you don’t get much time off during the year but we’ve got to come back next week against the Sharkies and fire up again.”

The Titans need to win six of their last eight fixtures – including games against the Sharks, Broncos and Roosters – to make the eight.

It’s a massive ask but Taylor believes the Titans can make a run.

“I think we can. We can’t have anyone in the team doubting that we can make the finals from here.

“We just need to make sure we can keep the run going and keep the combinations going and try and keep the same team out there every week to get in that eight.”