Raiders offer to help get Coal Train back on tracks
RUGBY LEAGUE: The engine of Ricky Stuart's Green Machine is shaping up to be the heaviest in the NRL next season.
The Canberra Raiders have thrown much-maligned Queenslander Dave Taylor a train-and-trial lifeline in the hope the former Maroons monster can return to his damaging best in season 2017.
After being released by French Super League franchise Catalans, Taylor - nicknamed the Coal Train - will join pre-season training in the nation's capital next month to try to prove he is worthy of another crack at the NRL after previous stints with the Broncos, Rabbitohs and Titans.
At 123kg, Taylor would join starting props Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo in tipping the scales at more than 122kg, while representative back-rower Josh Papalii weighs in at 112kg.
The Raiders will review Taylor's form in December and if he impresses them - both on and off the track - could earn himself a start in their trial matches in January and possibly an NRL contract.
"If David achieves his goals and is then offered a small playing fee for 2017 he has made better choices for himself, his family and his football,” a blunt Stuart said.
"It has shown he has bought in and committed to turning himself around.
"The Raiders have the resources in turning David into a regular NRL player, but it's up to David to show if he wants it bad enough.”
On his day, Taylor can destroy an opposition defence like few others, with his undeniable talent earning him eight Origin caps for Queensland and a Kangaroos jumper in 2012.
But his career has been plagued by constant queries over his fitness and desire.
He first debuted with Brisbane at the age of 18, before heading to Souths in 2010 and then returning to Queensland in 2013 with the Gold Coast.
Having been embroiled in the Titans' cocaine scandal last year, Taylor subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts of cocaine possession and is set to be sentenced next month.
Taylor's departure from French-based Catalans has also raised eyebrows, given he and fellow star NRL recruits Todd Carney and Glenn Stewart were released amid conjecture around their off-field behaviour.
Ex-English league legend Garry Schofield took aim at Taylor during Catalans' 44-0 loss to Hull FC in August, tweeting "I really believe that Dave Taylor produced the most pathetic performance in terms of attitude I've ever seen”.
Taylor's former Titans teammate Greg Bird, meanwhile, has been fined by police for his involvement in an incident at a Byron Bay hotel last month.
The forward, who has left the Titans to join Catalans, received a $550 fine for refusing to leave the premises.