Henry denies Hayne rift, wants to stay on
Embattled Titans coach Neil Henry has denied that there is a rift between he and superstar fullback Jarryd Hayne and declared that the pair can continue to work together not only for the rest of this season but into 2018.
Less than 24 hours after an emergency Titans board meeting was convened to discuss the working relationship between Henry and Hayne and possible courses of action, Henry addressed the media and spoke for 15 minutes predominantly on Hayne and his tenure at the club.
Both Henry and Hayne are contracted for next season but given the insipid performances dished up by the playing group in the past three weeks it appears increasingly unlikely that both can survive and a very real possibility that neither could be there next year.
The enormity of the situation escalated when Hayne made comments after the 42-16 loss to the Dragons that suggested he and Henry hadn't spoken all week, something that Henry vehemently denied on Tuesday.
It added fuel to the perception that the tension between the pair had reached breaking point but Henry insisted last week was like any other and that they can both co-exist moving forward.
"The 'feud' situation is a good way to energise and polarise people but there's no feud between us," Henry said as he tries to prepare the team for Thursday's clash with, coincidentally, the Eels.
"We're sitting together there [on Monday] doing team review in the front row. It's not like we don't talk to each other. That's rubbish.
"There's always a bit of banter before the game so we're both professional about that but we both want the team to do well and I need him to play well and I need every player to play well. That's my role as a coach.
"We didn't speak [last week] about him not being here in the future. We spoke prior to the game, we spoke in the team preview so that's not quite right.
"We were in a team environment, we prepared as we normally do, I said as many words to him before the game as I'd normally say.
"There's no feud between us and he'd admit that as well."
Titans CEO Graham Annesley and chair Rebecca Frizelle said at the completion of Monday's board meeting that the board would make a decision within the next week once they had been able to consider all the information available to them.
Both men could survive the axe, one or both could leave but Henry said that they could work together for the betterment of the team.
"I think we can. It's about being consistent, about a bit of give and take and putting the club first," said Henry.
"That's what it's about. It's not about me, it's not about him, it's about the Titans brand, it's about how we play football, it's about getting on with our jobs in a professional way and I'm sure we can do that.
"He's contracted here as much as I'm contracted here and time will tell around that. He's disappointed not being able to string together quality performances but he's not on his own there.
"He's a quality player and if he chooses to stay here he'll be a part of my team and that's a fact."
As for speculation in the media that the decision to sack Henry has already been made, the former Raiders and Cowboys mentor said he remains focused on finishing the season strongly and staying on next season.
"I'm still the coach of the team and I haven't been told otherwise," said Henry, who took over from Titans inaugural coach John Cartwright towards the end of the 2014 season.
"I'm contracted here next year and I'd like to stay here a long time. We've done some good things at a club that's had a fait bit of turmoil the last three years.
"Our challenge is to finish the season in a positive way and my challenge is to hopefully finish the season as a coach and that's all ahead of me as well."