Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan admits Ash Taylor is still a work in progress but has refused to point the finger at his underperforming marquee player, with the Titans slumping to their worst NRL season start.
Gold Coast let an early 16-0 lead slip to crash 22-16 to Canterbury on Saturday at Cbus Super Stadium - their fourth-straight loss.
The second-last Titans drop to a woeful 2-8 record.
Their dire situation was summed up when Gold Coast were on the attack in the dying seconds with a chance to send the match into golden point, only for Taylor to be caught on the final tackle without firing a shot.
Teammate Kevin Proctor could be seen screaming in frustration after fulltime at a shattered Taylor. The playmaker has failed to impress despite being one of the NRL's highest-paid players on more than $1 million a season.
In contrast, Bulldogs playmaker Kieran Foran stood up to lay on three tries and help Canterbury to pull off a stunning come-from-behind victory.
"He's a work in progress at the moment but he is trying hard," Brennan said of Taylor.
"He's feeling in there (dressing room) at the moment."
But Brennan refused to blame Taylor after yet another Titans fadeout.
"He hasn't had a real good run with injuries at the start of the year and he's another one who's lacking that week-in, week-out combinations (with spine)," he said.
"The more they play together, the better Ash will get.
"But I don't think (the team's confidence) sits solely on Ash. (Pivot) Tyrone (Roberts) put his hand up in the sheds today and said he could've been better in certain areas.
"A lot of players in there know where they can be better.
"It's not a finger pointing or a blame exercise for us at the moment ... the belief's there - it's just the confidence we need to show."
Brennan at least had one shining light with prop Jarrod Wallace stepping up in the absence of Shannon Boyd (concussion) to run 171m.
Wallace is fighting hard to retain his Queensland front-row spot with one more NRL game left before the Maroons' squad is named for the State of Origin series opener.
"He's been inconsistent so far this season - he'd be the first to say that," Brennan said of Wallace.
"But he had an enormous game (against Bulldogs) particularly with Shannon Boyd being down.
"We needed a bit of seniority in the pack and he embraced that."
Australian Associated Press