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Titans insist long-term vision remains but no guarantees for Brennan

Titans chairman Dennis Watt has reaffirmed the club’s commitment to a long-term vision of development but would not go so far as to guarantee coach Garth Brennan’s tenure through until the end of the 2020 season.

Sitting equal-last with the Bulldogs leading into Sunday’s challenging assignment against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, their horrid start to the year has been compounded with a further week of turmoil.

Coming just two weeks after the announcement of a mid-season review to be undertaken by Mal Meninga that will be presented to the board in the next few weeks, star halfback Ash Taylor was granted leave to attend to personal issues as the scrutiny on his performances intensified. On Saturday, NRL.com reported prized recruit Tyrone Peachey could soon seek a release in order to return to Sydney on compassionate grounds.

Former Kangaroos prop Shannon Boyd (headaches) and Bryce Cartwright (illness) were also late withdrawals from the 17 as Brennan tried to put a team together capable of registering the team’s fourth win of the season.

With pressure continuing to mount on Brennan in his second season in charge, a NewsCorp report on Sunday suggested the board was now veering away from its long-term strategy, a strategy Watt told NRL.com remained the core of the board’s philosophy.

"There’s no divergence from the plan," Watt said.

Broncos v Titans - Round 13

"We have made considerable investment in the development of junior pathways in close association with the clubs and the leagues on the Gold Coast and northern NSW.

"We need to develop the area that we’ve been given as part of our licence and as part of that young guys are going to get their opportunities. We’ve got a great group of junior reps coming through attached to the club which is exactly the plan.

"Already in the NRL squad we’ve got young guys like AJ Brimson, Jai Arrow, Moe Fotuaika, Jesse Arthars, Keegan Hipgrave, we just re-signed Jai Whitbread, this is all very deliberate. That’s still the vision and part of Mal’s review includes working with the various arms of rugby league in the area including girls and women to develop local talent. It’s a total, holistic plan."

Conceding the performance of the NRL team in 2019 has not met the expectations of anyone associated with the club, Watt confirmed Brennan’s position would form part of Meninga’s review but pointed to his involvement in the success of junior teams in the area.

The Titans have secured the core of both the Tweed Heads under-18 national champions and Northern Rivers Titans under-16 team that won the Andrew Johns Cup and had four contracted players in the Queensland under-18s team that defeated NSW on Wednesday night prior to Origin I.

"Everything’s up for review. Garth has said himself that this is a results-driven business and part of those results is the great success we’re having in the junior level," Watt explained.

"Some of the best young talent in the country are really excited to be committed to the Titans for the foreseeable future.

There is a willingness within the club to wear some short-term pain to get where we need to go.

Dennis Watt

"There is a willingness within the club to wear some short-term pain to get where we need to go because we’re probably starting off a lower base than some.

"The reality is we’re not where we expected to be. When you look at it game by game there are three or four games there that we very easily could have won and didn’t quite get there. So the picture could have been very different.

"But no one’s put their shoulder to the wheel thinking it was going to be easy.

"This is a resilient club and we’re certainly prepared to do the hard yards to get where we need to be which is a very strong NRL club that’s providing great opportunities for our young people."

As for the issues affecting Taylor and Peachey, Watt is not of the opinion it is reflective of any underlying issues within the team.

"They’ve both got personal and family issues," he said.

"They are footballers but they’re people first and that’s where we’re coming from. You’ve got to look at the whole person and help them with whatever it is they’re going through.

"They’re a really good group of young men and winning does change a hell of a lot of things, it really does."

 

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