St Helens have confirmed that head coach Justin Holbrook will leave at the end of the season to take up a two-year contract with NRL outfit Gold Coast Titans.
Holbrook, 43, arrived at Saints midway through 2017 and has a win ratio just short of 80% as head coach.
He led the Saints to the League Leaders’ Shield in 2018 and they have reached the Challenge Cup final this year.
St Helens currently sit 10 points at the top of Super League and are the bookmakers favourites to win the Super League Grand Final.
Holbrook said: “It has been an extremely tough decision to leave such a great club in St Helens.
“Since I arrived here in 2017, everyone at the club and the fans have been brilliant to myself and my family and we have loved our time here.
“Eamonn McManus, Mike Rush and the board wanted me to stay and did everything they could, which I greatly appreciated, but an opportunity to return home to the NRL is what I feel I need to do.
“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.
“I want to pay a huge thank you to my staff who are all excellent at what they do and especially the players who make coming to work enjoyable every day. The main thing for me is that I know the club is in a great position moving forward.
“Finally, with a Wembley Cup final coming up as well as the Super League play-offs, I want to make it clear that I am fully committed and focussed on St Helens and I am determined to lead this great club to the success it deserves in 2019.”
Titans executive chairman Dennis Watt said: “I think everyone in rugby league would be aware of the tremendous success that Justin has enjoyed in Super League, rebuilding St Helens to the top of Super League and taking them to the Challenge Cup final.
“Justin is very highly regarded, and it is a tremendous vote of confidence in the future of the Titans and the work that is already being done at the club that he has chosen the Gold Coast to begin his NRL career.
“The English Super League has proven to be a successful system for the next generation of top-level coaches to finish their apprenticeships.
“The last two coaches to come back to the NRL after coaching in Super League were Michael Maguire and Trent Robinson, and both won premierships on their return to Australia. We would love to see Justin continue that tradition.”
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