GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 28: Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler walks to a press conference following the round seven NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Cronulla Sharks at Central Coast Stadium on June 28, 2020 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Earlier today the Gold Coast Titans shocked the NRL world by announcing that coach Justin Holbrook would be parting ways with the club, "effective immediately".

The announcement was followed up by announcing the appointment of Des Hasler as coach from 2024.

It's not often that a double announcement of this magnitude can be made without any prior media speculation.

As I type this I am shocked. Shocked at both the rapidness of the announcement and also the nature of it.

Minimal fanfare for a coach who had overseen the club for four years. Minimal fanfare at the announcement of a premiership-winning coach being appointed.

I'm also shocked that the Gold Coast Titans would continue to make these big moves without seemingly have rhyme nor reason. Shocked!

To borrow a line from the famous Futurama ... "well, not that shocked!"

First and foremost, I "get" it. Des Hasler is a coach with premierships - plural - to his name. He has the experience and the runs on the board.

Hasler also oversaw the best times of Kieran Foran's career.

There are strong rumours that Ben Hunt is pushing for a move to the Titans sooner than later. There's every chance he'll walk in on Des Hasler's first day as they prepare for the 2024 season.

Of course the Titans would want an experienced, tile-winning coach, to oversee the golden years of two superstar halves (and at very least the one), right?

In theory, it's a sound plan. On paper it makes a lot of sense. If only rugby league was played, and coached, on paper.

In reality this looks like the ultimate knee-jerk or all knee-jerk reactions.

It is very much looking as though the NSW head coaching job is becoming available, with Des Hasler the man immediately linked to the role.

2023 State of Origin - QLD v NSW: Game 2
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 21: Coach Brad Fittler of New South Wales looks dejected as his team loses game two of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on June 21, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

I have no idea if that had anything to do with the hastiness of this announcement, but the Titans sure did time it well, either way.

The timing of this decision is made even more curious by the fact that the Titans are very much still in the running for the eight in 2023.

Uprooting the coached now all but ends those hopes. Meanwhile the appointment for 2024 will sit at home for the remainder of this campaign.

Given this was kept under wraps so well, couldn't they have held off until the Titans season ended?

Just quickly I am not surprised that Holbrook's time at he club was brought to an end. I actually thought he would be moved on at he completion of the 2022 season. That would have been the smart move in hindsight.

As a pseudo fan of the Titans, via a long-running joke combined with the fact I am the biggest fan of AJ Brimson on this earth, I'm scratching my head at Hasler's appointment, well timed or not.

I feel it important to point out that his last NRL premiership as a coach came back in 2011.

Fair to say that the game has changed just a little bit since then.

He did win a Dally M coach of the year award in 2012, taking his Bulldogs side to the grand final in that season, as well as again in 2014.

Again though, 2014 seems a very long time ago.

Between that last grand final appearance and now Hasler was sacked by two clubs. First by the Bulldogs following a steep decline.

Then again by Manly after overseeing one of the worst seasons in history on the northern beaches.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 22: New Manly Coach Des Hasler speaks to the media during a Manly Sea Eagles NRL press conference at Sydney Academy of Sport, Narrabeen on October 22, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

During his highly celebrated return to the Sea Eagles, Hasler coached his side to two finals appearances, and also 11th and 13th placed finishes.

He was removed hastily at the end of the 2022 season and replaced by the already under fire Anthony Seibold. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

With the greatest of respects to Hasler, his last finals appearance as a coach came in the year of "PVL Ball" which saw ridiculous six again calls completely change the game.

Tom Trbojevic maximised the increased speed of the game better than anyone in the competition and won a Dally M in, at the time, record fashion.

It's again worth highlighting that Hasler's Sea Eagles went 0-4 to start the season and only found form once the aforementioned Trbojevic returned and went bang!

Then there's the string of laughable signings that left the Dogs with a salary cap crisis they've only just emerged from.

Hasler is well known to be fast and loose with the cheque book. Now that he's been appointed I fully expect to see 33 year-old Ben Hunt added to the side for an eye watering yearly wage.

Returning to Manly quicky, he left that side in absolute shambles following a horror 2022 season.

A hugely lopsided and top-heavy salary cap has seen Manly rely almost entirely on their big three of 34 year-old Dally Cherry-Evans, eternally injured Tom Trbojevic and his workhorse but almost equally as unavailable brother Jake.

Nothing within Hasler's tenure at Manly has me convinced that this is a right move for the Titans.

Despite being AJ Brimson's biggest fan, he's not 2021 Tommy Turbo. No one can be thanks to the removal of the almost literal Turbo speed nature of 2021's competition.

NRL Rd 20 - Titans v Knights
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Jarrod Wallace and AJ Brimson of the Titans celebrate Brimson scoring a tr during the round 20 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Newcastle Knights at Cbus Super Stadium on September 25, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Kieran Foran is nowhere near the player he was at the peak of his powers. I'm not having a go but mother nature remains undefeated.

If the Titans are expecting late 2000s and early 2010s Des Hasler then I expect them to announce the successful unveiling of time travel. That was a very long time ago.

It would very well be a masterstroke. I'd be happy to eat these words in 12 months, 24 months or however long it would theoretically take.

Or we'll be here in 24 months time reading about the appointment of a new coach following the exact same story we've seen now at his past two clubs.

It brings me no joy to say which camp I'd be in if I had to decide right now.


  1. I suspect that the Titans management team are more hard-nosed and professional than those at Manly and the Dogs.

    They assessed that JH was not delivering, so they have found a replacement. Simple.

    JH complained that they didn’t say “you’ve got three games to show why…” etc. However, they understand that a coach follows his system and if it is not delivering it is ridiculous to expect that he can redesign it, explain it to the players, train them in its use, and deliver results – all in just three weeks.

    Des is not dumb. He should understand that the Titans management will not be swayed by BS. He should understand that they can read a balance sheet and a cash-flow forecast and will not let him back-end big money contracts, or offer long-term contracts to over-the-hill stars or unproven juveniles.

    Des should also understand that the Titans management will back him if he delivers and will be ruthless if he doesn’t.

    Des has the smarts to do the job, and if he is constrained – to stop him going off the rails – he could be an excellent choice.

Comments are closed.