St Helens have begun the search for a new head coach following confirmation that Justin Holbrook will return to his native Australia to join the Gold Coast Titans at the end of the season.
The 43 year old, who has transformed the fortunes of Saints since joining them in May 2017, is out of contract and rejected the club’s offer of a new deal in order to return to the NRL, where he was assistant coach at Sydney Roosters.
Titans said that Holbrook had been offered and agreed a two-year contract to succeed fellow Australian Garth Brennan, who was sacked earlier this month with the team bottom of the table. “It has been an extremely tough decision to leave such a great club in St Helens,” Holbrook told Saints’ website. “Since I arrived here in 2017, everyone at the club and the fans have been brilliant to myself and my family and we have loved our time here.
“Eamonn McManus [the chairman], Mike Rush [ceo] and the board wanted me to stay and did everything they could, which I greatly appreciated, but an opportunity to return home to the NRL is what I feel I need to do. It is very difficult as the only time I would get an opportunity like that is when we are winning and doing well as a club, which makes the decision even harder for me.
“I want to pay a huge thank you to my staff, who are all excellent at what they do, and especially the players who make coming to work enjoyable every day. The main thing for me is that I know the club is in a great position moving forward.”