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Renouf: Why Walker brothers are right fit to coach Titans

Gold Coast have a big decision to make on their next coach and I firmly believe Ipswich co-coaches Ben and Shane Walker are the right option.

The Walker brothers were interviewed in 2017 and they were very close to getting the job.

Garth Brennan is a lovely bloke but I don’t believe he was up to first-grade standard, to be honest.

When Brennan was appointed it came from outside the interview process that had been undertaken by a club-approved panel, but that can’t and won’t happen again with the Titans' head of performance and culture, Mal Meninga, and club chairman Dennis Watt on the interview panel.

This time there will be a thorough and transparent process in place and that will suit the Walkers.

I have listened to Watt speak about the upcoming coaching appointment and he said “we do need more NRL experience in the make-up of the club”. I don’t think that means the Titans have to appoint a coach who has been in charge of an NRL team.

The Walker brothers were in NRL systems from the age of 14 and learned their trade under Wayne Bennett, who coached their father Garry. Ben has said how a lot of their own coaching ethos came from Wayne.

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That's evident in the way their Ipswich side has always trained hard, competed hard and played with skill. I see a lot of Wayne’s man management in the Walkers.

Listen to players who have been coached by the Walkers and they speak in awe of how they transformed their football careers and their lives in a lot of ways. It is the same reverence you hear from players Wayne has coached.

It will be a high-pressure environment at the Titans but the Walkers are calm and will embrace that. The way they deal with the media is smart. They keep them inside the tent, not outside.

They are open and all about inclusion. The cut and thrust of the daily grind will be water off a duck’s back to them.

What they have done well in the last nine seasons at Ipswich is run a club from top to bottom with style. They run it on the smell of an oily rag too.

What I have noted, as will the Titans I am sure, is the way they develop players. Kurt Capewell is thriving at the Sharks after the Walkers turned him into a weapon after he'd been let go by a couple of NRL clubs.

They grabbed a guy called Billy McConnachie out of Mt Isa and he became a Scottish international soon after. Michael Purcell was running around in the bush and a few years later he was the leading try scorer in the Intrust Super Cup. Guys like Josh Cleeland, Rod Griffin and Matt Parcell got NRL or Super League deals after thriving under the Walkers.

Sharks utility Kurt Capewell.
Sharks utility Kurt Capewell. ©NRL Photos

Because they are so good with players I reckon the Walkers would find a way of getting the best out of Ash Taylor and Bryce Cartwright. They would give Ash confidence and belief. They would do the same for Bryce and find a way of unlocking all that skill and destructiveness he has naturally but that we are yet to see.

The key with the Walkers is their positive talk and actions. You never hear them say anything negative about their players. They just find a way of getting the best out of them.

The Walker boys own successful businesses and understand how to manage an organisation and people. They are also footy heads who complement each other.

I had dinner with them in Rockhampton this year after the Jets played up there and it was a great experience. They are relaxed and like a laugh … but boy can they talk footy.

A lot has been made about the unorthodox style of the Jets but they would mould that to fit in with the NRL without compromising their core beliefs.

Former Manly coach Geoff Toovey.
Former Manly coach Geoff Toovey. ©NRL Photos

If the Titans do go with a coach who has been in charge of an NRL club then I think Geoff Toovey should be at the top of their list.

He took Manly to a grand final in 2013. We have seen Toovs in media conferences in the past and how passionate he was about Manly and his players.

Talking to the players he coached, he was very good with the team behind the scenes. He had their respect.

Toovs is a guy who will set high standards and make sure they are met.

He is a winner and I reckon he would get the Titans moving in the right direction.

My good mate Kevin Walters has said he's not going to be interviewed for the Titans job. We can only take him at his word on that.

Kevin is the coach of Queensland where he has done a fantastic job, and is contracted until next year. I know he wants to coach in the NRL but I am not sure the Titans are the right club at the right time for him.

He is hard to read at the moment about exactly what his intentions are when it comes to the Gold Coast job.

The way the Walkers deal with the media is smart. They keep them inside the tent, not outside.

If he wants it, and the Titans make it clear they want him, I have no doubt he will be the leading contender. He is a wonderful coach and would bring a real profile to the Titans.

This is make or break for the Titans.

They were given the ultimatum a few years back that they had to make their rebirth work, otherwise it would be the end of the Gold Coast Titans as we know it.

The game can’t afford for that to happen.  I’m sure with the Walker brothers at the helm the club would start heading in the right direction.

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

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