A teammate has affectionately compared him to a big Labrador but Queensland will hope for a lot more than a few licks when they unleash Dave Taylor in State of Origin game two.
In the past Taylor’s bark had been worse than his bite, and the hulking Gold Coast utility’s attitude has been questioned as he failed to reach his obvious potential.
Considered to be in the Origin doghouse in recent times, Taylor seems poised to cap a turnaround by ending a two-year exile and coming off the Maroons bench in Wednesday night’s must-win clash with NSW in Sydney.
Queensland coach Mal Meninga appeared to reveal his hand when Taylor, Ben Te’o, Jacob Lillyman and Chris McQueen started on the bench in the team’s Origin dress rehearsal, Sunday’s opposed session against the Maroons Under-18s at their Gold Coast camp.
Taylor was considered such a lost cause in his last Origin campaign in 2012 that Meninga contemplated never picking the Gold Coast giant again.
But Gold Coast and Queensland teammate Nate Myles predicted Taylor would be a howling success in game two after witnessing his transformation first hand.
“You can never question Dave’s heart. He is like a big Labrador,” Myles said.
“He’s always got the right intentions.
“But he’s always going to be the one who decides his own fate.
“He’s changed a few things at training and you can just see how his form is getting better and better.
“I try to help him because of the person he is.
“A lot has been said about his talent but, once he realises that he can decide his own destiny, his potential will be endless.”
Apart from his attitude, Myles believed his teammate had also collared his on-field unpredictability, at least partly.
“You know what he can do. You just don’t know if he is going to do it at the right time and situation,” he said.
“Hopefully he gets on when we are in a good position and then he can do some good things to help the team.”
Queensland backrower Sam Thaiday could barely recognise the man he first met as a cocky – but still very large – 17-year-old at the Broncos.
“His wife and his two girls have really settled him down and he is enjoying the Gold Coast lifestyle,” he said.
“When I first met him at the Broncos he was a child superstar.
“He was really good in the junior ranks and thought he could just walk into the NRL but he’s learned lessons and hard ones over the years.
“It’s good to see the big fella back.
“In Origin you need that spark and an X-factor.”