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Holbrook convinced he can bring Midas touch to Gold Coast

Justin Holbrook admits he had concerns about taking on the Gold Coast job, however insists the vision of the club has him convinced he's made the right decision.

In an interview with NRL.com the day after being announced as Titans coach for 2020 and beyond, Holbrook spoke about how several conversations with Mal Meninga allayed any fears he may have had given the club's history and lack of success.

"There's pressure on everyone," Holbrook told NRL.com.

"Coaches come over here to England and get sacked all the time. It happens in the NRL, too. It's a tough position to be in. But I love coaching and I have a great opportunity on the Gold Coast.

"I had my concerns, of course, as every one does. But after talking to Mal, they know the same challenges and everyone up there wants it to be successful. To get that opportunity and for them to choose me is something I'm quite excited about.

"There are some great players there, but for one reason or another they are not performing as well as they should be. I won't arrive there until the end of October but I can assure you I will be doing the best with what we've got."

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Salary cap and Ash Taylor

Holbrook won't return to Australia until after the Super League season with St Helens, who sit on top of the ladder.

He's asked plenty of questions about the state of the club's salary cap, given a number of players on big dollars haven't lived up to their lofty price tags.

"Everyone knows there are concerns there, it's just a matter of working through them. That's not going to be my sole responsibility or on my shoulders completely, but we will have conversations in the next couple of weeks. I haven't had too much time to go into great detail."

One of the other challenges facing Holbrook will be trying to extract the best from under-fire halfback Ash Taylor.

"I actually had him in the Junior Kangaroos and he was an outstanding young player. He got man of the match in the game against the Junior Kiwis when I had him. I know he's an outstanding young talent. I haven't spoken to him yet but that's something I will worry about before I get there."

Bulldogs speculation

Speculation has been rife for some time about Holbrook's future in the NRL, linked with a return to the Bulldogs after meeting Canterbury chief executive Andrew Hill on his recent trip to the United Kingdom.

However, Holbrook insists there wasn't a conversation about a future job offer.

"Hilly came over for a number of reasons," he said.

"I obviously had a chat to him – but at no stage did he say he was changing coaches. I wasn't comfortable with what came out in the media. No one liked it – the Bulldogs or St Helens.

"At no stage did he say they were looking at a new coach. We spoke about players here and he asked about my coaching, but that's as far as it got."

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The Robinson apprenticeship

Holbrook couldn't have been more complimentary of Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson, who he worked under for two seasons before taking on the role at St Helens.

He credits Robinson for helping him in his goal to become an NRL coach.

"He was absolutely fantastic for my coaching development," Holbrook said.

"Prior to joining the Roosters staff, I had always been a head coach either with the 20s or in reserve grade. But to get an NRL assistant at the Roosters, and learn the details of the game and not worry about everything else, it was a great development and learning experience.

I can assure you I will be doing the best with what we’ve got.

Justin Holbrook

"Robbo is a great guy and a smart man. He challenges you a lot as a coach. It was a perfect coaching career path for me. Then St Helens, it was very important. 

"I definitely always wanted to coach in the NRL, and it's worked out well the timing with the Titans on the lookout for a new head coach. Sometimes you have to hope things align and they have in this situation.

"I've had a couple of conversations with Mal [Meninga]. Everyone knows the concerns over the Gold Coast in recent years.

"They've never really been successful and you get a sense of how much Mal and the owners, as well as [CEO] Steve Mitchell and [chairman] Dennis Watt, want things to change. Everybody wants it to be successful up there, which is great. I know I will have a lot of support around me.

"The junior base is growing area and they've got some exciting players. I'm excited to get over there but if I'm being honest it's been a little bit awkward in St Helens. To tell everyone I am leaving is not a great feeling.

"I have loved my time over here and want to finish on a high before I head home to start the next chapter."