Justin Holbrook relieved to get future confirmed but admits decision was tough

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Outgoing St Helens coach Justin Holbrook says it was tough to decide to leave the club for Gold Coast Titans, but he is relieved that questions will now stop regarding his future.

His speculated departure to the NRL was confirmed earlier this week, just days after Saints had booked their place in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

With the Super League league leaders’ shield all but in the bag, Holbrook could still depart these shores with a treble.

He said: “I only found out myself on Monday. It was a tough decision. I’ve said all along how happy I’ve been here but an opportunity to coach in the NRL is also what I would love to do and those opportunities don’t come along too often.

“You only get these opportunities when you’re going really well, and it’s the hardest time to leave.

“I had a chat with them (Gold Coast) last week and they said they will make a decision at the weekend and let me know on Monday.

“Obviously I didn’t want to drag it on with the whole speculation and things like that, so I feel a lot better now that I do know what I’m doing and people don’t have to ask anymore.

“The awkward thing at the moment is that we go to Wembley, we’re on a massive high and then I throw in a dampener and say I’m leaving.

“I’m glad we’re in the final to get us back up again, but it was a tough decision and an awkward one, but I felt that’s what I wanted to do.”

Holbrook, 43, has a superb winning record during the regular season at Saints, though they lost in both semi-finals last season.

He made a handful of appearances in the NRL as a player, before cutting his teeth on the coaching staff at Canterbury, St George-Illawarra, Parramatta and as assistant to Trent Robinson at Sydney Roosters.

He added: “My family and I were happy here, and she said if you want to go, we’re happy with that too.

“I love it here. I love the playing group, and to tell them I’m going doesn’t feel great, but the good news is we’ve got the games still coming up this year.

“I didn’t get chance to tell the players until Tuesday as they were off on Monday and I didn’t want to bring them in. I said I’m only telling you something you already know, but I just wanted to explain the reasons why and how hard it was for me.”

He will link up with another former Saint, Australia legend Mal Meninga, to try and revive the fortunes of the struggling Titans franchise.

They recently signed England centre Kallum Watkins from Leeds, and Holbrook is looking forward to linking up with the pair.

Holbrook added: “I think there’s an opportunity knowing that I’ll have good support there. It’s well reported that they’re not in a great place, so the only way is up.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to try and turn that around. They’re sitting at the bottom and not going well at the moment, so it’s a massive challenge.

“I forgot about Kallum being over there, I watched him play last week and I thought he did fairly well.

“It’s more defence orientated over there and for me it’s a mixture of both that’s needed.”

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