Why sacking Brennan is not the answer to Gold Coast woes

Club announces an internal review of the football operations.

Club insists all departments will be examined as part of the review.

Review finds the solution to all club’s problems can be solved by sacking the head coach.

Let me know if you’ve seen this movie before.

When the Titans announced two weeks ago that on the back of the club’s worst start to a season that newly promoted head of football Mal Meninga would be conducting a mid-season review, many believed it was the first sounding of the death knell for coach Garth Brennan.

It may well prove to be the case when Meninga hands in his findings in the next few weeks but rugby league’s 13th Immortal would be well served rewriting one of modern sport’s most predictable scripts.

When the Titans appointed Brennan in October 2017 they expected a competitive NRL team. They also wanted a club with a sustainable model for success that harnessed the talent of the region. To finally make the Titans a genuinely Gold Coast team.

Given the success he enjoyed coaching juniors and lower grades at Newcastle and Penrith, his resume was a ready-made page-turner, not to mention the attractive price tag that comes with a coach seeking their first opportunity to prove themselves in the NRL.

It’s naive to think a confident halfback could not have converted big leads into at least a couple of wins in recent weeks but the reality is since Brennan’s appointment, the Titans have won 12 of 37 games.

Yet giving him the flick is not the answer.

Not yet anyway.

At the heart of the gritty win against all odds over the Broncos on Sunday was the growing influence of young Gold Coast locals now populating the NRL squad.

AJ Brimson. Jai Arrow. Moeaki Fotuaika. Keegan Hipgrave. Jai Whitbread. Jesse Arthars. Two-try star Brian Kelly.

All of these players are yet to celebrate their 24th birthday and can form the nucleus of a Titans team for the next decade.

Pushing through underneath is a growing collection of teenage talent, many of whom are already committed to the Titans for the foreseeable future.

Juwan Compain, Carsil Vaikai, Alofiana Khan-Pereira and Tristan Powell are unknowns now but all represented the Queensland under 18s in their big win over NSW last week and are contracted to the Titans for the next couple of years.

The Northern Rivers Titans under-16 team that won the Andrew Johns Cup also has a core of players tipped for bright futures on the Gold Coast.

Junior Kiwis coach Ezra Howe has been in the role of senior recruitment manager at the club since January and has been integral in convincing the best Gold Coast kids – and their parents – that they should aspire to play for the Titans.

As much pain as Titans fans have felt the past two seasons they can take heart that the club is finally on a path of sustainability, a path they should have taken since inception.

Cutting the proverbial head off by sacking Brennan would only put the club on the precipice of another negative spiral.

A new coach will want "their people" around them, a major say in reshaping the roster and with the promise that in two or three years’ time they will have a team capable of contending for finals football.

It is the cycle of sub-standard clubs looking for a quick fix and one that the Titans must break.

It is unlikely the club could afford a coach with significantly better qualifications than those which earned Brennan the position in the first place so what purpose would termination serve other than a hefty pay-out and a three-month pre-season honeymoon of uncertain hope?

Brennan may not be the coach to take the Titans to a maiden premiership … or maybe he is.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

At this point no one can say for certain, but he needs longer to oversee the job he was partly employed to do in the first place, a job already coming to fruition.

What players may say of Brennan in interviews with Meninga should not be the concern but rather the fact they are being asked their opinion at all. It’s the equivalent of asking schoolkids to review the performance of their teacher.

It has been said many times those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it - hopefully Meninga has seen enough in six months to understand what the Titans need more than anything is stability and not a sacrificial head.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.