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Titans need a coach who has been there, done that

If history is any guide, the Titans will lift in the next few weeks after parting ways with Garth Brennan but it's the long-term response from the senior players that will be critical.

I saw a few coaching reshuffles in my career. It happened in my debut year at Souths in 1998 but the one everyone probably remembers more is Freddy Fittler taking over from Chris Anderson at the Roosters late in 2007 after we'd been belted 56-0 by Manly.

At that stage of the season we had won just five games out of 16 but the "new coach bounce" saw us go unbeaten for the next five weeks with four wins and a draw.

A change of coach quite often invokes a short-term response but it's what happens next month and next year that will tell the true tale. 

Senior players must help the assistant coaches

When you get into a position like the Titans find themselves in, it can seem like everything is spiralling out of control.

The players seem like they're not on the same page as each other or the coaches and everyone has an opinion on what you're doing wrong.

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The players have a different relationship with the assistants to the head coach, who has to be more of a disciplinarian. The assistants can usually have more of a mate-type relationship with players and can be on more of the same level.

If they are working with the senior players through the season, the ideas they then come up with are representative of what the senior group is thinking.

So when head coach does step aside, the ideas and thoughts the assistant coaches have are quite often what senior players are thinking anyway.

If the whole team is on board that's where you get the short-term kick like we had in 2007 because the assistant coaches don't really have any pressure on them after being thrown in at the deep end and everyone's on the same page.

That could last a bit longer but eventually, depending on the team, those coaches will have to take an authoritarian approach once they start copping some losses and it becomes a cyclical thing.

Building a strong leadership group

The new Titans coach will have to come in and work with the roster they have and try and get better results than what Brennan was getting.

But very quickly they also have to start putting their stamp on the roster. They have to bring in some new players and mould the ones that are currently there into the type of group where there are senior players helping the emerging players become stars in their own right.

If you have old heads that come from other teams with good administration and good systems in place like the Storm and the Roosters, you can build a strong leadership group.

Titans head of performance and culture Mal Meninga.
Titans head of performance and culture Mal Meninga. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

The Titans don't really look like they have a big pool of those types of players at the moment which could be part of the problem.

That's why they need a coach who has been there and done it before, one who knows what systems and non-negotiables to put in place and can work with the club's head of performance Mal Meninga.

Mal has a good track record at rep level of really putting pride in the jersey but in terms of the week-in, week-out business of building clubs and coaching plays, I don't know if that's his strength.

That's why I don't think there will be a power struggle if the Titans do bring in an experienced coach because Mal seems like he'd be happy to take a back seat and let the coach run the football side if they get the right person.

Mal doesn't seem to be the kind of person who'll try to micro-manage everything.

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No quick fix

It's important everyone at the club realises that no matter who the new coach is, they won't suddenly turn into a premiership force overnight. We've seen how long it has taken Nathan Brown to turn the Knights from wooden-spooners into a top-eight threat.

That's another reason why the job might not favour a rookie coach but rather an old head who is in for the long haul.

That coach needs to be able to attract the sort of quality players I was talking about who can help shape the up-and-coming players.

Otherwise you get stuck in a situation where you are paying overs for quality players and you can't afford to keep the promising talent you do have, so your roster gets lopsided and you end up stuck in the same rut.

The Gold Coast is probably one of the best places in the country to live and play football.

It should be a privilege to be able to get paid good money to live on the Gold Coast and play footy for a job.

It shouldn't be a dumping ground for players who can't get a start somewhere else.

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