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Former Brisbane Broncos, Gold Coast Titans and Warriors playmaker Ash Taylor is set to move into the coaching ranks next year, when he takes over the top job for the Newtown Lions’ A Grade side.

The Toowoomba-born Taylor was announced as the club's head coach on Sunday, August 21, after he moved back to his hometown in May, following an early retirement from the NRL due to hip injuries.

Taylor, who was with the Warriors at the time of his retirement, has been helping out around Newtown since his return to Toowoomba, with his sister Kiara Taylor playing for the club.

Newtown’s A Grade men’s side have had a difficult year, finishing the 2022 season without a win to their name and having lost several games by 100+ points.

It is no doubt there is a huge challenge ahead for the former Queensland Emerging Squad member, but Newtown Lions president Janet Suey said he was the right man for the job.

Ash Taylor in Newtown kit.
Ash Taylor in Newtown kit.

“When he moved back, he started to come out and do the supportive big brother thing and watch his sister play,” Suey said of Taylor.

“Then he started helping us out around the club. He’s been around for the latter half of the season, helping with the boys at training.

“His presence in the club has been really good for our morale given it’s been a tough season for us in A Grade men’s.

“When the coaching job came up, Ash threw his hat in the ring and while we had a few really good quality coaches apply for it, we decided Ash was the person who could take us where we thought the club needed to head.

“He is what we see for the future of the club. Given we’re only two years back in the competition, we’re in a rebuilding phase and we’re hoping Ash can help us rebuild to the club we used to be.”

Suey, who said she has known Taylor for most of his life, said she has noticed how mature Taylor was during the past few months and that this would be crucial in this rebuilding phase.

Newtown’s A Grade men’s team mostly consists of players in their early 20s and Suey said they need the experience that Taylor could bring.

With the club also hoping to attract new players, Taylor’s presence could certainly prove to be a drawcard for the 2023 season.

“With him having that recent NRL experience, he’s very mature for a 27-year-old,” Suey said.

“It’s showed in the way he’s helped us over the last few weeks. That maturity’s really shown in him.

“Ash being only 27, he probably thought he had more years in the NRL left in him. That’s disappointing for him, but for him to then be able to put his hand up and coach a team - and probably a team that he knows isn’t going too well at the moment – that’s a really good thing.

“People are probably saying, ‘why are you doing that? Why that team?’. But he wants to try to help a club he has connection to.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day and getting clubs to the top isn’t going to happen overnight. We will get there as a club, a whole club, juniors and seniors. It will happen.

“We’re hoping he can lead us in the right direction. The direction we want to go in, that’s what Ash wants to be in as well.”

Despite the tough season for Newtown’s A Grade side and the challenge ahead for Taylor, Suey said there was plenty of good within the men’s team.

While they have been subjected to some big losses, the players continued to turn up week-in and week-out and Suey said that was a promising sign for the future.

“They’ve been cricket scores, not rugby league scores, let’s be honest,” Suey said of the 2022 season.

“But every single player turns up every week, every training session and every game, knowing we’re probably not going to win.

“They keep turning up and for that, I couldn’t be any prouder of anyone that pulls on the Newtown jersey.

“It’s tough to keep players on the field and turning up, but we didn’t have to do a lot to keep them here, which is a credit to the club, committee and supporters.

"They’re very loyal and that shows.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of rugby league and this year at Newtown, it’s probably one of the most rewarding given the way the people around the club are still here.”

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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