New Titans coach Justin Holbrook has a “clear and simple plan” for his players as they prepare to return for the start of pre-season on Monday.
“We’ve got to work hard, we know that. And that is the clear and simple plan,” Holbrook said after officially taking the reins at the Titans this week.
Only weeks after winning the Super League grand final with St Helens, Holbrook has arrived on the Gold Coast to start work on the 2020 season – his first as an NRL Head Coach.
In his first official interview as a Titan, Holbrook addressed the Club’s Members and fans to outline his plans for the Gold Coast, and what supporters can expect to see under the new coaching triumvirate of Holbrook, and assistants Jim Dymock and Jim Lenihan.
“I’ve been asked ‘what type of coach are you?’, and I say ‘I don’t know. I just coach the way I do’,” Holbrook said.
“I just want to be a side that works as hard as we can and competes. I want to compete every week. I know it is so simple and obvious, but that is the way I coach. I want us to enjoy the way we play.
“I want people to come to our games looking forward to watching us play. That is the sort of side I want to create.
“We want to be winning games, don’t we? That is our job. We’re in sport, and rugby league is no different to any other sport.
“That is what (Members and fans) want to see, and what we all want to see.
“From all the coaching staff, the playing group, we are all in this together. That’s what I want everyone to realise.
“There won’t be any finger pointing anywhere. We are all in this together, and we all have to buy into it, and be doing the best we can.”
Holbrook has already been working hard with Dymock, Lenihan and the rest of the Titans’ High Performance staff in readiness for the playing group’s return on Monday, and said his first impression of the Gold Coast after two successful years in England has been positive.
“It has been great. Obviously the facilities here at Parkwood are first-class,” he said. “The most pleasing thing was … we’ve got everything we need, which is fantastic.
“I met all the staff, who are great people, so first thoughts are really good.
“We get a fresh start next year and we want to create a good environment. In particular the two assistants – I think to promote Jimmy Lenihan from Burleigh is a great move from us, knowing the success that he has had there, and the love for the community that he has got.
“We’ve got a really good coach in Jimmy.
“And the other Jimmy, Jimmy Dymock, with his experience at a number of NRL clubs is exactly what we need here. I am really confident we’ve got a really good mix of coaches here to join the rest of the staff, and we look forward to next year.
“It will just be great to get going. We have seven weeks leading up to Christmas. It is just a matter of getting the boys going again and working on all aspects of the game.
“There is not one particular area, you have to be good at everything. You have to be fit, fast and strong and skilful – and all of that type of stuff is what we will focus on leading up to Christmas.”
Holbrook said he was excited about the talent in the playing group, and extracting the full potential out of a squad that struggled in 2019.
“I have high expectations,” Holbrook said of his new players. “Every club has good players, and we are no different.
“We’ve got as good (quality) players as anyone, we have to get the best out of them. We’ve got to work hard, we know that. And that is the clear and simple plan.
“Obviously the coaching staff coming in will create a new environment. (Last season) was disappointing for everyone at the club – whether you are a coach, you work at the club, or you are a supporter.
“Nobody is happy with the season that the Titans had in 2019. For the players, I guess they get a fresh start. It all starts on Monday. That is what we want to try to create.
“I love working with the younger players. I think it is always exciting bringing the young ones through.
“But equally, with the experienced guys, it is about making sure they maintain the excitement and the hard work to deliver next year for us. I like the different ages and the different personalities, it is always good fun. I’m just looking forward to getting started.”
The Titans still have five spots to finalise in their top squad of 30 for 2020, and Holbrook said he is content to sit back and watch the off-season merry-go-round of player movement before thinking about potential recruits to target.
“The good position is, we don’t have to rush into that,” he said. “We have got a few months, and as we all know a lot of clubs still – as crazy as it sounds – are still chopping and changing players right up until the season starts, which does seem strange, but it happens.
“Everyone has got salary caps, so they are juggling players around. We will just keep an open eye on things like that, and we have good recruitment guys in process here.
“It will just be a bit of an open mind in that area. We have a number of players starting on Monday, so I will just get my head around that first, then worry about those other spots.”
After a remarkable stint at St Helens, Holbrook says he is looking forward to the challenge of replicating that success at the Titans.
“For myself and my family, the club and the town of St Helens was great for us, and I loved my time there,” he said.
“But as I said all along, I do want to coach over in the NRL, and I am lucky enough to get the opportunity here at the Titans.
“Mixed emotions a little bit, because it is always hard to leave when you are going really well. But it is also the most pleasing thing. It would have bene harder to leave if we hadn’t got the job done.
“So to know that we have won the Super League title, and it is back in St Helens, makes it easier to leave, to be honest.”