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Homesick Taylor signs with Gold Coast before sinking boot into Panthers

Date

Brad Walter, Adrian Proszenko

PANTHERS 24 RABBITOHS 40

Action from NRL Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs at Centrebet Stadium, Penrith. Click for more photos

Rabbitohs trounce Panthers

South Sydney score first win of the season with big victory at the foot of the Blues Mountains. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Five things we learnt from yesterday's game

AFTER winding back the clock to his childhood days as a five-eighth in yesterday's win over Penrith, Test forward Dave Taylor told his South Sydney teammates he was leaving to join the Titans next year.

MATCH STATS

Taylor, who is in his third season with the Rabbitohs, has agreed to a two-year deal with Gold Coast with an option to play another two years at the club. Souths were keen for him to stay but the Sun-Herald revealed yesterday that his wife, Ashlee, was homesick and the couple, who have two young daughters, would return to Queensland.

Gold Coast chief executive Michael Searle said the Titans were excited to sign a player of Taylor's calibre.

''Obviously his athleticism and his strength and skill is second to none in the game for a big man so he is an exciting acquisition for our club,'' Searle said. ''We understood that his family was keen to get back to Queensland and we are very pleased that he has accepted our offer.''

Taylor, who scored two tries against the Panthers, did not want to comment about his future after the match and several teammates told the Herald they hoped he stayed at Souths. However, the 23-year-old later issued a statement announcing he would be leaving at the end of the season.

"I have really enjoyed my time at the Rabbitohs,'' Taylor said. "The club, the players and fans have been very good to me. I came here wanting to become a better player, and I will be leaving here as a State of Origin player, a better person, and with another daughter in our young family. I appreciate the patience the club has shown, allowing me to make the choice that was best for me. It has been a difficult decision, but one I have made with my family in mind. We still have a job to do at the Rabbitohs, and I will continue to do my best for the club."

Taylor left no doubt that the decision would not affect his form for Souths with a five-star performance against Penrith that was only bettered by Greg Inglis's display at fullback.

Despite being discouraged from kicking by coach Michael Maguire, Taylor scored a Billy Slater-type try in the 13th minute when he dived on his own grubber kick and grounded the ball just before it went dead in goal. The 120kg forward then showed remarkable footwork for his size to sidestep Blake Austin and score 15 minutes from full-time. ''I have been telling Dave to chop his foot off at training but when he comes up with that it was a good moment, although I was blowing up at the time I must admit,'' Maguire said.

While the Rabbitohs are disappointed to lose Taylor, the club had been aware for some time that he wanted to move to Queensland but didn't want an announcement until after yesterday's game.

''I think it has all been handled in a respectful and professional manner,'' Searle said. ''I understand that Dave's manager [Col Davis] informed the Rabbitohs of his decision at the same time he informed us that he was keen to come home. We didn't want to disrupt South Sydney's preparation and now that it has been released I think it is a good positive announcement for all the parties concerned.''

Meanwhile, Maguire said he had no concerns about Inglis's fitness for Friday night's match against Brisbane in Perth after the Test star appeared to injure his leg late in the match.

A barnstorming performance at fullback from Greg Inglis has helped South Sydney to their first NRL win of the season, a 40-24 mauling of Penrith on Sunday.

SOUTH SYDNEY 40 (D Taylor 2 R Asotasi A Everingham G Inglis C McQueen tries A Reynolds 8 goals) bt PENRITH 24 (T Burns 2 K Kingston N Smith tries L Walsh 4 goals) at Centrebet Stadium. Referee: Gavin Badger, Brett Suttor. Crowd: 13,876.

 

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