Edwards steeled for hopping-mad Taylor

KNIGHTS big hit merchant Joel Edwards is expecting South Sydney second-rower Dave Taylor to be fired up on Sunday after he missed his chance to play in Queensland’s seventh-straight State of Origin victory on Wednesday night.

Last Sunday Penrith felt the full blunt of the colossus’s rage when he rampaged over the Panthers in a man-of-the-match performance in a 38-12 Rabbitohs victory.

Taylor was embroiled in a post-Origin III controversy yesterday after pictures circulated of him giving a middle-finger salute to Blues players at full-time from the grandstand.

As a fellow second-rower, Edwards is likely to face the torrid task of stopping the 122-kilogram man known as the ‘‘Coal Train.’’

‘‘He’s a quality player and he will be disappointed about not playing last night, so it’ll be a challenge containing him,’’ Edwards said yesterday.

When asked if he would make it his business to halt Taylor’s impact, Edwards: ‘‘Whatever comes in front of me that’s what I’ll deal with, so that’s what I’ll be doing.

‘‘We haven’t looked too far ahead of ourselves and we haven’t spoken about Souths too much, we’ve just been worrying about ourselves and what we can control.’’

Resurgent Souths will pose a bigger task for Newcastle after the Knights secured their first back-to-back victories this season last Saturday night by beating Parramatta.

The sixth-placed Bunnies appear semi-final bound and have played with more structure and consistency under new coach Michael Maguire.

Edwards is off contract at the end of the season and the challenge of dominating Taylor and fellow Souths star forwards Sam Burgess and Michael Crocker will offer the Cessnock Goannas junior an ideal opportunity to impress his coach Wayne Bennett.

Earlier in the season Edwards was poised to ink a new three-year contract before Bennett put a ‘‘moratorium’’ on player signings.

The 23-year-old made a slow start to the season, but has played 80 minutes in the Knights’ past four matches and made an obvious marked increase in his yardage and defensive output.

When asked yesterday what he needed to produce to convince Bennett he should be retained, Edwards said: ‘‘I’m just worrying about what I can control, and that’s how I turn up on the weekend.’’

There has been speculation the Canberra Raiders were interested in snaring the 103kg redhead if the Knights failed to move swiftly.

Yesterday Edwards did not want to comment on whether his preference was to remain with Newcastle.

Meanwhile, Knights winger Aku Uate returned from Brisbane yesterday morning to train with his teammates.

Uate was dropped from the Origin decider by NSW coach Ricky Stuart after his poor performances in the first two games in defence and under the high ball.

The Kangaroos flyer was at Suncorp Stadium to support his Blues teammates despite being omitted from game three.

The Knights’ sole Origin player, Queensland winger Darius Boyd, came through Wednesday’s night blockbuster unscathed and will return to Newcastle tomorrow in time for the Rabbitohs game.

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