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The appointment of the next Gold Coast coach to replace Garth Brennan is set to be the most important decision for the Titans since the Kelly-Frizelle consortium took over the running of club from the NRL.

Whether it’s an experienced and hard-nosed mentor like Tim Sheens and Geoff Toovey, someone untested at NRL level like Craig Fitzgibbon, Jason Demetriou and the Walker brothers, Shane and Ben, or a coach proving himself in Super League such as Justin Holbrook, the Titans must get the right man.

Kevin Walters has publicly stated he wants to focus on the Queensland job but it is expected that Gold Coast management will test his commitment as they consider every option to ensure the club's long term viability.  

Everything else at the Titans is heading in the right direction since the consortium - headed by Darryl and Joanne Kelly and Rebecca and Brett Frizelle - assumed control at the end of the 2017 season, but without on-field success there will continue to be doubts about the future of a Gold Coast team in the NRL.

The establishment of a second Brisbane team is under consideration for 2023, after the current broadcast deal expires, and some believe that may mean the Titans will need to prove their worth before then.

Match Highlights: Panthers v Titans

"We are in no doubt that this is it. This is the last stand," Gold Coast chairman Dennis Watt said. "We have to get it right. There are plenty of other people banging on the door who want to launch teams elsewhere."

The Titans enjoyed just 12 win in 40 games with Brennan in charge last year and for the first 17 rounds of this season, and Watt announced his departure on Sunday after the club fell to outright last on the Telstra Premiership ladder with a 24-2 loss to Penrith on Friday.

The decision to part company with Brennan midway through his three-year contract raises questions about the process that led to his appointment after the axing of Neil Henry following a well-documented falling-out with Jarryd Hayne.

On paper, the Titans have a good roster and certainly one capable of performing better than this season's results, with the likes of Ryan James, Jai Arrow, Tyrone Peachey, Ash Taylor, Tyrone Roberts, AJ Brimson, Moeaki Fotuaika and Brian Kelly.

Yet Brennan is the second Gold Coast coach within two years to lose the support of players and there is a feeling the club needs a mentor who can instil discipline and help attract more big-name players.

Brennan's recruitment of Bryce Cartwright, Leilani Latu and Peachey from Penrith, as well as the big money signing of prop Shannon Boyd from Canberra have not have the desired impact, while he failed to get the best out of Taylor.

After the departure of Brennan, the players have no excuses and need to start performing to dispel the notion that the lifestyle of the Gold Coast is detrimental to NRL success.

The way Newcastle have rebuilt under Nathan Brown is an obvious example for Gold Coast and the Titans have off-field resources the equal of any NRL club, including a new high performance centre and a massive junior nursery.

Australian coach Mal Meninga is Gold Coast’s head of performance and culture, while Watt is a former NewsCorp executive who has been heavily involved in the success of the Storm and Broncos CEO Steve Mitchell was in charge of Touch Football Australia before joining the Titans earlier this year.

Brennan’s departure followed an internal review conducted by Meninga and some of the names immediately linked to the job included Walters, Holbrook, Sheens, Toovey, former Penrith mentor Anthony Griffin, Demetriou and the Walker brothers.

The Titans have a good roster and certainly one capable of performing better than this season's results.

Walters appeared to rule himself out of contention on Sunday but the Titans are expected to chase the Maroons coach hard if they believe he is the right man for the job, despite overlooking him when Brennan was appointed.

Demetriou, who has followed Wayne Bennett from Brisbane to South Sydney as his assistant, and the Walker brothers, who are co-coaches of the Ipswich Jets in the Intrust Super Cup, were also interviewed for the role in 2017 and are expected to again be interested.

Holbrook has been linked to a number of NRL jobs after achieving success with St Helens in Super League, while Sheens recently parted company with Hull KR and Toovey has been on the lookout for a job since his 2016 exit from Manly.​

Griffin has a relationship with Watt from their time together in Brisbane, while Fitzgibbon and fellow Roosters assistant Adam O'Brien are considered NRL coaches in waiting.

“At the end of the day, appointing the  coach is the probably the most important decision you are going to make so clearly we are looking for a strong leader with a track record of success who is going to have high personal standards and uphold standards throughout the organisation," Watt said.

Everything else is in place at the Titans, but if they again appoint a coach who can't deliver success, they may not get another chance to start all over again in another couple of years.


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


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