New era begins as Titans lock in Brennan’s successor
Justin Holbrook's signing with the Gold Coast is complete with the Titans brokering a two-year deal with the St Helens mentor.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Holbrook has signed with the Titans until the end of 2021 with provisions in his contract for a more lucrative upgrade if he can haul the embattled Gold Coast out of the NRL cellar and into the finals.
Titans powerbrokers have been tight-lipped about the appointment with CEO Steve Mitchell refusing to confirm whether Holbrook was Garth Brennan's successor at Parkwood.
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But the deal is done, with Titans co-owners Darryl Kelly and Rebecca Frizelle presiding over a board meeting on Wednesday to rubber-stamp Holbrook's impending arrival at the Titans.
The Titans are expected to formally announce Holbrook's signing over the next 24 hours.
While Holbrook was off-contract at season's end, ostensibly making him a free agent, the transfer from St Helens to the Titans will be seamless with Saints officials working with Gold Coast hierarchy over the timing of the announcement.
Holbrook has won a staggering 62 of 78 games as St Helens coach and hopes to frank his success in Super League with a Challenge Cup final victory over Warrington on August 24.
Should ladder-leaders St Helens qualify for the Super League grand final, Holbrook's commitments in the UK won't cease until October 13, with the Titans hoping to have the 43-year-old on board in early November to launch their pre-season.
Holbrook's two-year deal is a sign the Titans are being prudent with the duration of his employment, but there is a scope for a longer-term commitment if the former NRL playmaker can bring swift success to the Gold Coast.
Former Cowboys premiership-winning fullback Lachlan Coote, now at St Helens, believes Holbrook will be a sensation in the NRL and has no doubt he can handle the media scrutiny.
"Justin is the greatest coach I've had," Coote said from the UK.
"I've been lucky in my career to work with some outstanding coaches but Justin is on another level.
"I've spoken to some of the St Helens boys who have been here for 10 years. They've had a number of coaches and they say Justin is the best they've had, so that's an indication of how popular he is."
"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 respect you as an individual, he cares about your welfare and doesn't try to make you something you're not.
"There's certainly less pressure here on coaches because the Premier League is massive and gets all the media attention, but Justin has the temperament to handle the NRL.
"He would be great for the Titans. I have no doubt he will succeed one day as an NRL coach."
Titans culture-and-performance chief Mal Meninga has come under fire for not interviewing more candidates but Mitchell lauded his due diligence in securing Holbrook.
"Mal has been so influential in the game for so long," Mitchell said.
"He's worked across all levels of the game so his insight and relationship network has been great.
"It doesn't hurt to have Mal Meninga as part of the process."