Holbrook wins Titans job
Justin Holbrook has won the battle for the Titans post with the St Helens coach edging out Queensland Origin mentor Kevin Walters for one of the toughest jobs in Australian sport.
Gold Coast hierarchy advised Holbrook late on Monday night he had been appointed as Garth Brennan's successor with the Titans to formally announce his signing in the next 24 hours.
As revealed by The Courier-Mail on Monday, Holbrook had internal support to preside over Gold Coast's rebuilding mission from 2020 after being interviewed last week from England by Titans culture chief Mal Meninga.
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Despite incessant speculation Walters was a done deal at the Titans, the Maroons mentor was never formally approached and was never the primary target for Meninga.
Instead, Meninga had his sights set on Holbrook, who may lack the big-name profile of Walters but boasts an impressive resume, having won 62 of 78 games at St Helens for an impressive 79 per cent strike rate.
Holbrook's management is in talks with Titans powerbrokers thrashing out a multi-year deal, most likely two or three years, with Holbrook having advised St Helens of his decision to return home.
The Titans desperately need Holbrook to bring his success at St Helens to the glitter strip. Since taking charge in 2017, Holbrook has built a formidable record in the UK, steering Saints to back-to-back minor premierships to become the hottest coaching prospect in Super League.
Holbrook has also won two NSW Cup titles at the Bulldogs in 2010-11 before lower-grade coaching stints with the Dragons and Parramatta and an assistant's role to Trent Robinson at the Roosters.
Former Cowboys premiership-winning fullback Lachlan Coote, now at St Helens, revealed on Sunday that Holbrook was the greatest coach he has worked with in his 11-year professional career.
"Justin is the greatest coach I've had," Coote said.
"I've been lucky in my career to work with some outstanding coaches but Justin is on another level.
"The big thing for me is Justin's honesty and integrity with the players.
"It's a small world in rugby league and coaches get a reputation pretty quickly if they aren't honest with players.
"Justin is a great communicator and he respects you as an individual, he cares about your welfare and doesn't try to make you something you're not.
"He would be great for the Titans. I have no doubt he will succeed one day as an NRL coach."
Meninga fronted with Gold Coast board on Monday to table his recommendation that Holbrook was his preferred candidate.
The Titans released a statement Monday night saying: "This process will not be rushed. The club has been very thorough in its assessment and due diligence performed on each candidate to ensure the person who best fits the club's strategic plan is chosen as Titans head coach.
"We will inform all stakeholders when a decision and agreement has been reached."
Holbrook is now locked in, with the Titans to negotiate financial terms before unveiling their fourth coach after John Cartwright, Neil Henry and Brennan.
The 43-year-old faces a daunting assignment taking over the embattled Titans and could inherit a club with the wooden spoon.