Gold Coast Titans players are facing the prospect of starting pre-season training in a month's time without a head coach as the club's prospective owners await news on exactly who that might be.
When Neil Henry was dumped as Titans coach two games from the end of the season, club officials had hoped to move quickly on appointing his replacement. But the confluence of the club searching for new owners and a new coach concurrently has complicated the process.
As the NRL has sought expressions of interest from potential owners and narrowed the sale down to a few likely candidates, there has been an understanding that those who will control the purse strings in future at least be kept up to date as to who the third head coach in the club's history will be.
The selection committee formed to interview coaching candidates has not yet made their recommendation to the Titans board, whilst the NRL will continue their talks regarding future ownership with the interested consortia over the coming weeks ahead of the meeting of the ARL Commission at the end of the month.
Titans CEO Graham Annesley remains confident that a coach will be appointed before the playing group returns in early November for the start of preparations for the 2018 Telstra Premiership season but conceded that he couldn't be certain that would be the case.
"I don't think that will happen but I can't guarantee it," Annesley told NRL.com of a pre-season start minus a head coach.
"Everything that we're working towards is to have a head coach in place when the players get back. But I can't guarantee it because I'm not the only one involved in the process.
"Ultimately I can only do what I'm permitted to do and because the NRL has committed to keep the ownership consortia in the loop as well… it's a very unusual situation. Very unusual.
"I don't think we'll have to wait until the outcome of the ownership for the outcome of the coach but we're not there yet."
Annesley has remained tight-lipped over the identities of the coaches who have expressed interest in the Titans job, only to say that he has been extremely pleased with the quality to have stepped forward.
The Titans board met last Friday but a recommendation on the coach was not forthcoming, meaning the search will continue on both fronts for the foreseeable future.
"We're getting reasonably close but it can still take a few twists and turns along the way yet," said Annesley.
"That process (of determining the new owners) has still got a few weeks to go yet and the coach process is coming along slowly. It's kind of tied up to a degree in the ownership changeover as well.
"We are endeavouring to get that resolved before the players come back but I've got to work within the confines that I've got."