NRL: Johnathan Thurston has urged the Titans to stay patient with young playmakers Ashley Taylor and Kane Elgey, admitting they would be feeling pressure after the Gold Coast's rocky start to 2017.
Thurston's Cowboys beat the Titans 32-26 at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday night.
In a way it was the master versus the apprentice with four-time Dally M winner Thurston opposing Taylor, who could replace him in the Origin and Test arena one day.
Taylor, 22, has been one of the Gold Coast's best players this season at halfback, while five-eighth Elgey, 23, is progressing in his comeback from a serious knee injury.
There is a lot of weight on the shoulders of the young Titans shot-callers who have a combined total of 47 games of NRL experience and played only four matches together.
Thurston, a veteran of 296 NRL appearances and 36 consecutive Origins, cut his teeth off the bench for the Bulldogs, playing 29 games across three seasons (2002-04) before becoming an NRL regular with the Cowboys in 2005.
The Titans youngsters have not been afforded this type of apprenticeship and Thurston said they would be feeling the heat.
"There is obviously a lot of pressure on the young halves coming through now," he said.
"There is a lot of pressure on the young halves that get thrust into the big time. How to manage games, how to close out games and get your team back into games as well.
"Each year (Taylor) will get better at that. They're still learning their footy."
Taylor and Thurston spent a week rooming together for the Indigenous All Stars in February and were locked in an intriguing battle on Saturday night as the Titans targeted Thurston's side in defence.
Thurston was penalised for tackling Taylor when he kicked the ball and the Cowboys co-captain admitted he was happy to get one over his protege with the win.
The Titans face a tough trip to New Zealand on Sunday where Taylor and Elgey will confront Warriors Test duo Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran.
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