All is not well on the Gold Coast.
This past Saturday’s 54-0 hammering at the hands of local rivals, the Brisbane Broncos, ended any slim chance that the Titans had of repeating their 2016 heroics of qualifying to play finals footy.
Truth be told, the Titans are worth their 14th places position on the table after failing to produce a consistent level of footy across 22 rounds. Frustratingly, despite a horror injury toll, they have been able to produce some moments of magic, yet have been unable to reproduce that week-in/week-out.
Two wins over reigning premiers the Sharks as well as victory over the Storm in Melbourne shows just what this side can do, but their efforts over the past three weeks have been equally as dreadful.
With an improved playing roster this season, much was expected, and the Titans looked set to lock in a second straight finals appearance, at very least.
Questions have been asked as to why a side with so much talent could possibly be struggling so badly just 12 months later, and fingers are publicly being pointed squarely as coach Neil Henry. Of course injuries have played a huge role, but ultimately there seems to discontent on the holiday strip.
Reports have surfaced over the past day-or-so indicating that Neil Henry was against the marquee signing of Jarryd Hayne, preferring to build a more “balanced” squad, with money being spent evenly across the park.
Hayne’s million dollar-plus contract means a huge chunk of the Titans cap going forward is locked into a player the coach supposedly was not sold on. How that can happen in a professional sporting organisation beggars belief.
I can’t imagine the Broncos signing any player against the wishes of Wayne Bennett, let alone one who will command a million dollars a season. Craig Bellamy would surely have the final say regarding a signing of such magnitude.
So why not Neil Henry?
After all this is a coach who had the Titans absolutely firing towards a finals birth prior to the Hayne signing. There hadn’t been such a brilliant brand of footy played on the Gold Coast since the likes of Campbell, Rogers and Prince were running around at Skilled.
To blame Hayne’s arrival on the sudden form slump would be lazy and incorrect, but I can’t honestly see how a sporting organisation could take a decision this massive out of the coach’s hands.
Assuming the reports are correct, and there have been rumblings about this for more than a while, the Titans need to make a decision; either let Neil Henry coach the side, or pay him out and put someone else in charge. Someone who is more a figure head and a target of abuse from angry fans following 54-0 drubbings.
"Losing faith" with the coach is one of the great cop-outs in modern sport…synonymous with mentally weak players. #needtolookwithin
— Martin Lang (@Martin_Lang11) August 7, 2017
There is talk that Henry has supposedly “lost the dressing room”, arguably the single biggest cop out in professional sport. If highly paid “professional” footballers can’t make it work with someone employed to guide them, and produce less than stellar performances as a result, they should find desk jobs.
I can fully understand the Titans board wanting to sign Hayne for both performance and commercial reasons, but if they in turn purely blame Henry for poor results, then they should load each other into cannons and fire into the sun.
Either a board supports and believes in their coach, or they don’t.
If not, pay Henry out and issue a notice to members stating why Hayne was supposedly signed against the wishes of a man paid to produce results on the field.
Hayne’s signing may have a hugely detrimental effect on the Titans long term recruitment strategy, with Ash Taylor coming off contract. Taylor should be the absolute focus on building a side for the next five-plus seasons, and the Titans financial strength may have been weakened via the Hayne signing.
Straight up, I admit, if I were the Titans, I would have signed Hayne. He’s a game breaker. He is a multiple time Dally M medalist. He’s a freak on the field and a commercial giant off-field. The Titans had to jump at the chance to sign him.
The Broncos are capable of offering Taylor far more impressive third party deals due to their strength in the Brisbane market place, which means the Titans will have to pay up, largely inside their salary cap, to retain their star number seven.
Maybe this has something to do with Henry’s supposed reluctance to sign Hayne … not that he reportedly had a choice.