Kallum Watkins said Holbrook’s reputation for building relationships with his players on the back of his communication skills will be the key to his coaching success at the Gold Coast Titans.
The Titans’ former Leeds Rhinos captain said the playing squad at Super League rivals held genuine affection for their coach, who will leave Langtree Park in October to join the Titans as Head Coach for at least the next two seasons.
Holbrook has served a lengthy and successful coaching apprenticeship, and clearly carries significant tactical nous having lifted Saints to the minor premiership last season, a Challenge Cup final berth later this month and sitting five wins clear at the top of the Super League ladder heading into finals.
But Watkins said it was the new Gold Coast coach’s personal relationships with his players that were the foundation of St Helens’ success – a formula he expects to see replicated at the Titans.
“It is a big opportunity for him over here,” Watkins said. “He is a nice guy as well. I have met him a couple of times and always found him to be a nice fella.
“You can see he is getting the best out of the Saints players, and he will instil that over here.
“It is massively important because you have to get on with your players, have relationships with them, and know how to deal with your players because they are all different.
“It seems like he is doing that at St Helens. It seems like he cares, and that is the most important thing for the team and the club.
“He has a lot of passion for what he does, and a lot of care for what he does. You can see that. If he can instil that here, it is going to be good.”
Watkins is the most recent member of a growing list of Super League players to head to the NRL, and said the potential for Holbrook to bring some of the English competition’s best players with him to the Gold Coast was an exciting prospect.
“I think so. With the Saints boys as well, there have been players wanting to come,” he said. “There are players in the Super League that want to test themselves here as well.
“The guys that have come here to test themselves earlier have made a massive impact, and encouraged more players to come and take it on – like myself.
“If we could get a few players over there that are setting Super League alight to come here, they would be great recruits for the club.”