It has been a turbulent few years for Titans fans. The glory years of the 2009 and 2010 NRL campaigns seem like such a long time ago now, with Gold Coast finishing in second last place 12 months ago.
The dismal form of just seven wins in 24 matches led to the unfortunate dismissal of Neil Henry a year before the end of his contract. Titans’ chief executive, Graham Annesley called a press conference to announce the immediate departure of Henry, despite a string of senior players reportedly pleasing for Henry to be granted a stay of execution.
However, since the arrival of new Titans coach, Garth Brennan, there has been a renewed sense of optimism for the 2018 campaign. Halfback, Ashley Taylor was honest in his admission that the squad had spiralled out of control prior to the sacking of former coach, Neil Henry.
Taylor admitted the squad lacked work ethic and spent too much time and money partying and holidaying on the Queensland holiday strip. It was the kind of money that the average Titans fan would need to get acquainted with holiday finance for to enjoy such wild trips.
Taylor’s revelations about how much things had spiralled out of control prior to the departures of coach Henry and Titans superstar, Jarryd Hayne to the Parramatta Eels have certainly raised a few eyebrows.
At the beginning of the 2018 season, Taylor admitted he felt the culture was “too loose” last season and “stuff was getting out that didn’t need to get out”. The stories that were being leaked regarding a lack of team spirit and commitment certainly affected on-field performances. Nevertheless, hope springs eternal and the arrival of promising coach, Brennan from lower-grade Penrith appears to have curried favour with the likes of Taylor.
Brennan’s coaching CV is certainly impressive, albeit at a lower level. He took the Penrith Panthers to three under-20s titles, as well as a New South Wales Cup. Taylor believes that despite the turmoil of recent seasons, Brennan is building a “strong culture” at the Cbus Super Stadium once again. Taylor spoke of Brennan setting up “bonding sessions” so that the team can “get to know each other” better on and off the field.
Despite that renewed sense of optimism, the pundits believe the Titans are still nailed on for the wooden spoon in 2018. An opening day 30-28 win over the Canberra Raiders certainly gave supporters hope that a better year was on the cards. However, Brennan’s men then followed that up with back-to-back defeats, including a heavy 8-54 thrashing by the Dragons. When you consider the Raiders lost all three of their opening fixtures, the Titans’ narrow win no longer looks so promising.
One thing the Titans faithful will be hoping for out of this campaign is to feel proud of their team once again. Brennan is certainly trying hard to build unity and get the fans on side once again. The 46-year-old’s commitment cannot be questioned. His resignation from a role as assistant coach for New Zealand at last year’s Rugby League World Cup demonstrates his desire to succeed in the NRL as the Titans’ third head coach in the club’s brief history.