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Henry on hunt for prop, centre

Neil Henry has been installed as the second coach of the Gold Coast Titans having served as John Cartwright's assistant for the 2014 season. Credit: Grant Trouville. Copyright: NRL Photos
Incoming Titans coach Neil Henry has outlined a recruitment policy built around quality over quantity as he seeks to add players to a roster over the off-season capable of pushing for a finals berth in 2015.

Henry was on Tuesday afternoon announced as the successor to foundation coach John Cartwright with the former Cowboys and Raiders mentor handed a three-year term to rebuild the squad into a premiership force.

Titans CEO Graham Annesley described Henry's appointment as "a coup for the club" while chairman Rebecca Frizelle said it was a decision with not only the full backing of the board but also the playing group.

Although he wouldn't be drawn on particular candidates, Annesley said that the club had received "multiple" expressions of interest from both experienced NRL coaches and others looking for a maiden opportunity but expressed his delight at being able to give Henry the nod.

The former Dally M Coach of the Year has an intimate understanding of the roster management of the club having worked as Cartwright's assistant for the past 10 months and said he is on the lookout for a front-rower and a strike outside back as his key roster priorities for next season.

The club is believed to have come to terms with Panthers back-rower Matt Robinson already and as the club prepares to farewell veterans Luke Bailey, Mark Minichiello and Ashley Harrison on Sunday, Henry is eager to add further to the forward stocks.

"We're certainly losing some quality men in 'Bails', 'Mini' and 'Harro' so there's a lot of experience and a lot of leadership and quality of players that are leaving, we'll need players to step up and we'll hopefully get some players in to fill the void," Henry said.

"We will have a couple of spots in the cap and we'll just have to see who we can attract to the club.

"Losing Bails and Mini, we need a replacement in the forwards, maybe a front-rower, although Ryan James has been out most of this year. I think also probably the centre position, a strike outside back not necessarily a fullback, but a centre or fullback would be good for the club.

"We're limited with what we can do by the cap for next year so by and large it will be the same squad, although we are losing a couple of players. We have been able to sign a couple of players and there will be an announcement about that shortly but there is a little bit of room to move, particularly around our second tier and some of the young players coming through out of under-20s system as well who are looking for an opportunity moving forward in the senior ranks.

"We might need to look at our second-tier depth and what we can do with that and maybe strengthen up a couple of positions but I'd hope that if we're all healthy next year and we have a good run we'd be pushing up into that eighth position.

"We all want to play finals football and it has been a few years here and we need to start getting up towards finals."

In outlining the type of player he would like to bring into the club both from a developmental aspect and also external recruitment, Henry insisted that he wants players with a 'team-first' attitude and a willingness to work hard.

Graduates from the under-20s team have been few and far between in recent years and although the likes of Holden Cup Team of the Year representative Kane Elgey and Christian Hazard look the most likely prospects, Henry hinted at attitude as his most desired quality.

"We need to be resilient, we need to be able to turn up and get the job done and battle," said Henry, who took the Cowboys to three consecutive Finals Series from 2011-2013. "We've shown in some games this year that we've hung in and been able to get into a game – our last home game against Manly was an example of that – where you expect to be in the fight for 80 minutes. You do that through your training and through being a tough mental side and working on that, setting your standards, driving those standards and trying to achieve those standards.

"If we can do that and get players that want to come up here and work hard for the team and for the community and the fans that follow them, if they buy into that environment, they're the players I want.

"I want them to be up here and say that they are part of the Gold Coast and community of the Northern Rivers and I'm going to do my best for this region."
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