The future of Gold Coast Titans coach Garth Brennan is riding on the club qualifying for the finals next season.
Brennan, a rookie coach recruited from Penrith’s reserve grade side, signed a three-year contract running from 2018 to 2020. However, the third year is contingent on results, meaning if the Titans fail to make an impact next season, the club’s board may look to recruit a new head coach.
It’s been a rough few years for the glitter strip club, both on and off the field.
In 2016, the Titans looked to have turned the corner by qualifying for the finals, but since then a number of poor decisions, injuries, off-field dramas, the Jarryd Hayne debacle and the sacking of former coach Neil Henry, sent the Gold Coast back to the bottom of the ladder.Embed from Getty Images
The 2018 season was a mixed bag for Brennan in his first year as an NRL head coach. A remarkable come-from-behind win in Round 1 against the Raiders was the perfect start, the Titans went on to win three of their first five games before inconsistency and injuries derailed the rest of their campaign, finishing in a disappointing 14th place.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment for Brennan was his star recruit Bryce Cartwright, who has flopped since arriving at the club on a big money deal. Cartwright has struggled with injures and off-field issues over the past couple of seasons, which looks to have severely affected his on-field performances.
But like Cartwright, the Titans roster has a plethora of talent and potential.
AJ Brimson was arguably the find of the season, at just 19-years-old, he excelled at both five-eighth and fullback in his 15 NRL appearances. Paired with 2016 Dally M Rookie of the Year, halfback Ash Taylor, the Titans will have one of the most lethal attacking games in the competition next season.
Speaking of Ash Taylor, his 2018 season was a tale of two halves. The first half of the season saw him racking up try assist after try assist, which almost earned him an origin debut for the Maroons, but the pressure to perform for that elusive origin jumper saw his early season form turn into a form slump which he never recovered from.
It’s been rumoured that former Newcastle premiership winner Matthew Johns will be helping Taylor during the off season with handing pressure and taking his game to the next level.
The Titans have recruited very well for next season, beefing up their forward pack by signing Shannon Boyd who has 4 tests under his belt, current test and NSW origin utility Tyrone Peachy will add even more attacking spark and promising young five-eighth Ryley Jacks who was brought up through the Melbourne Storm system.
To further emphasise the quality of their roster, they have Queensland origin representatives Jai Arrow and Jarrod Wallace, New Zealand international Kevin Proctor, former NSW origin hooker Nathan Peats, captain Ryan James who is on the cusp of NSW origin selection, wingers Anthony Don and Phillip Sami who scored 29 tries between them this season and an 18-year-old superstar in the making, impact forward Moeaki Fotuaika.
The fact of the matter is, the Titans have the roster and the depth to be successful. The challenge for Brennan is to ensure the right structures are in place, the right combinations, have the ability to get the best out of his players and to ensure each of his players are clear on their role in the team.
Two areas of concern for coach Brennan are his teams defensive deficiencies (4th most missed tackles in 2018) and completion rate (last with 76% completion in 2018), meaning they were unable to apply enough pressure on opposition teams throughout the season.
As mentioned, the attacking potential this side possesses will be hard to stop, if they can get their discipline right on both sides of the ball. If they do, they’ll win enough games to be a force in next years competition.
Most pundits won’t have the Titans in their top 8 and many will tip them for the wooden spoon. But despite the lack of confidence from the outside, each individual involved within the club from the front office, the coaching staff and the players need to work hard to make next season a successful season.
For the Gold Coast Titans, success is defying the odds and qualifying for the finals in 2019. No more excuses.