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The Roar


Sorry Titans fans, but the end is nigh

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3rd August, 2019
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So, will they be the South Brisbane Titans or the Perth Titans? That’s really the only question to ask after the Gold Coast’s shambolic signing of Justin Holbrook.

I’m not having a go at Holbrook, who has a success rate of 79 per cent as the boss of Super League club St Helens. He’ll give it a red-hot crack.

But being a winning coach in the UK isn’t the same as being a winning coach in the toughest rugby league comp in the world.

Really though, Holbrook getting the gig is beside the point. It’s the way he landed the role that stinks to high heaven.

Word is the Titans basically just decided he was their man, without so much as interviewing any other candidate.

As I argued last week when it had been reported that Kevin Walters was set to be the clipboard-holder without so much as an interview, “the idea he should get the job over other equally (un)qualified candidates without so much as presenting his case to the board suggests the Titans haven’t learnt any lessons from a decade of disappointment.”

Turns out, even though it was regarding the wrong candidate, the Titans haven’t learnt any lessons.

While Holbrook reportedly did have an interview – via Skype – no one else did.

Really? The likes of Geoff Toovey, Anthony Griffin and Tim Sheens are available and those men – all with winning records as NRL head coaches – weren’t even worth a quick FaceTime?


It’s not to say that any of that trio would necessarily have been better candidates than Holbrook, but how do the board know if they didn’t even bother to ask?

Justin Holbrook

Justin Holbrook has enjoyed some success with St Helens. (Photo by Dave Howarth/PA Images via Getty Images)

And what happened to chair Dennis Watt’s desire for “a track record of success”? Are we really calling solid results from a small sample size – fewer than 80 matches in England – “a track record of success”, particularly given none of those wins were in a grand final?

But let’s just pretend they did interview all these eminently qualified candidates and still found that Holbrook was the best man for the job.

How do to show their faith in the new guy?

They give him a two-year deal.


Two years. A shorter amount of time than Garth Brennan got – and a period of time in which Holbrook is expected to turn the worst club in the league into, well, not the worst club in the league.

Adding to the confusion is that the club’s CEO said earlier this week they expected their new coach to oversee a roster overhaul.

“There’s a genuine understanding, desire and intent from the club to have a long-term coach, a coach that can set culture and build a squad over a three to five-year period,” Steve Mitchell said.

So the club needs a five-year turnaround and they give the new bloke two years? What are they actually doing?

As for how they ended up deciding Holbrook was their man, well, that was because the club’s head of performance and culture, Mal Meninga, made some phone calls.

“He’s worked across all levels of the game so his insight and relationship network has been great,” Mitchell said.

“It doesn’t hurt to have Mal Meninga as part of the process.”


Mal Meninga with sacked Titans boss Garth Brennan. (AAP Image/Darren England)

I don’t want to take a pot shot at the most successful Origin coach of all time, but does anyone actually know what Meninga does on the Gold Coast?

During his short tenure, the club’s star player has taken a two-month sabbatical, the coach has been sacked and the team are anchored to the bottom of the ladder.

How’s the performance and culture, Mal?

As best I can tell, Meninga’s done one thing: developed another one of his cringey acronyms.

One of his first actions as coach of the Kangaroos was to create the RISE initiative – respect, inspire, selfless, excellence – which is a confusing hodgepodge of nouns and verbs that Meninga claimed “just happened organically”.

Now at the Titans, he’s got the organisation saying they have a “new vision, mission and values” – RAPT, which stands for being resilient, accountable, proud and trustworthy.


We are Titans and we are RAPT!Our new vision, mission and values have tonight been announced. ????▶️

Posted by Gold Coast Titans on Monday, 11 March 2019

They’re called buzzwords Mal, and no one buys them – particularly not when the first-grade side are playing the way they are – even if the first letters of each do happen to “organically” form another buzzword.

Also, just yuck. Stop it, Mal. Acronyms are the worst. I believe his response will be that he lives the MAL philosophy: more acronyms likely.

Ultimately, after promising fans and members they would search far and wide for the best possible candidate to be their head coach, because the club is at a crisis point from which it may never recover, they got Meninga to make some phone calls, then they appointed the cheapest possible candidate.

It doesn’t exactly scream excellence. But, really, what else did we expect from this shambles of a club?

So, what do you reckon? Will the Titans be relocated to Perth or Brisbane?


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