Why Holbrook can keep Titans on the Gold Coast
THE Gold Coast Titans are confident a period of success under newly minted coach Justin Holbrook can stave off the spectre of relocation talk, which continues to swirl around the club.
As revealed by The Courier-Mail, Holbrook signed with the club on Wednesday night to a two-year deal, with provisions of an upgrade if he can haul the Titans out of the NRL cellar and into the finals next season.
The 43-year-old St Helen's mentor will arrive on the Gold Coast from as late as November, once his time in the English Super League is up for this season.
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Holbrook has notched up 62 wins from 78 games at St Helens and has his eyes set on a Challenge Cup final victory over Warrington on August 24.
Titans CEO Steve Mitchell said he was confident the club had found the right man to create a winning culture on the Gold Coast.
And they'll need it with NRL commentators, including New South Wales coach Brad Fittler, suggesting it was time to move the success-starved Titans on from the Gold Coast.
"We talked in depth about leadership and culture," Mitchell said.
"That's fundamentally important on how we're going to go forward.
"To grab that player cohort, get the best out of them, make them work together, create a culture of high performance, accountability and really get the best out of them.
"This point in the life cycle of the club, this period is vitally important for us.
"The Gold Coast Titans will be here. We will always be here.
"There's 16,000 people registered between Logan to Lismore.
"This is a fundamental catchment."
After finishing 15th in 2017, 14th in 2018 and likely wooden-spooners this season, Holbrook has two years to change the fortunes of the club around.
Mitchell said he had faith in the current playing group to make the top eight.
"The roster we've currently got is very coachable," he said.
"That will be one of his first challenges is to go and get our current roster up and going and playing to their full potential.
"If we looked at 2023/24, that roster will evolve as we go.
"There's no reason why the roster we've currently got can't play finals."
Holbrook requested the announcement to be delayed for a day so as to break the news to his current squad at St Helens.
In a statement from the club, Holbrook on Thursday said it had been a tough decision to leave but he had always wanted to coach in the NRL.
"An opportunity to return home to the NRL is what I feel I need to do," Holbrook said.
"It is very difficult as the only time I would get an opportunity like that is when we are winning and doing well as a club, which makes the decision even harder for me."