It’s now or never for Gold Coast – Justin Holbrook the saviour?


The struggles have been many. After a return to the NRL finals in 2016 thanks in large part to an amazing second half of the season, the Gold Coast Titans have been one of the worst clubs in the NRL.

Since the beginning of the 2017 season, the team has recorded a hard to bear record of 19-49, including 4-16 this season with four games remaining. Clearly, expectations are not being met to the chagrin of both Gold Coast fans and team ownership. 

Founded in 2007, the club got off to really impressive start, making it to its first finals in 2010. Success has been scarce since then. The team’s performance has been so poor over the last 10 games that Aussie sports gamblers betting with sports book can’t get enough points to make a bet on the Titans worth the risk.

Clearly, CEO Steve Mitchell realises the team is officially on life-support. Attendances are down, team morale is down, and fan support is falling apart. Sensing that it’s now or never to save the team from the ultimate demise, Mitchell finally pulled the trigger on Head Coach Garth Brennan’s tenure with the team. It was a decision that had to be made based on Brennan’s record of 12-32 as head coach in just under two years in the position.

If there’s any doubt how team ownership feels about their predicament, that was removed when Titans chairman Dennis Watt made clear that the club’s future hangs in the balance based on who they appointed as the club’s new coach. According to Watt, this is likely the last shot the team is going to take to find a coach that can get the team back on track and put fans back into the seats. 

None of this is lost on sports journalist Robert Craddock of the Courier-Mail. According to him, “This is a club that’s been on life support in four different incarnations. They’ve got good owners now but even then they’re sailing into the wind. It’s a really tough situation, they have to get this call right.”

Moving forward, the Titans would seem to desperately need two things: they need a head coach that knows how to produce winners and a roster of players that includes guys who are willing to take a team leadership role. While the search is on for a new head coach, finding the right mix of players might prove to be a little more difficult.

The Next Gold Coast Head Coach Will Be….

With little room for error, a couple of very interest names have been placed on the team’s shopping list. Among the most prominent names are Roosters assistant coaches Craig Fitzgibbon and Adam O’Brien and St Helens’ Justin Holbrook. 

Of the three, Holbrook would seem to be the better fit. His current contract with St Helens is set to expire at the end of the year, which has opened the door for a discussion with him about coming aboard and trying to turn around Gold Coast’s fortunes. 

If the team is looking for a proven winner, Holbrook is the guy. In just under three seasons as head of the Saints, he has managed to accumulate a fine record of 61-15, including the League Leaders’ Shield for finishing at the top of the standings in 2018. This has been quite a performance for a man who is in his first job as a head coach.

If Titans’ management could convince Holbrook to take on this challenge, it would be a bit of a homecoming for a man who played three years (1999-2002) in Australia before working as an assistant coach for the Canterbury Bulldogs, St George Illawarra and Parramatta. He also spent some time as assistant coach with Sydney Roosters as right hand man to Trent Robinson.

Whoever should land the head coaching position is going to immediately have to address what has become a bit of a losing culture among players who are having difficulty coming together as a team. With a firm hand and a higher level of discipline, this is a situation that could be fixed.

It has to be fixed or ownership might have to consider the unthinkable.