After two and a half outstanding years at St Helens in which he guided the Saints to 52 points in back-to-back seasons as well as a first Super League title in five years, Justin Holbrook joined Gold Coast Titans ahead of 2020.
When he arrived in Queensland, the Titans had just finished bottom. Since then he’s over seen a steady revitalisation of the NRL’s youngest club. In 2020, the Titans finished one win away from the play-offs and so far this season have been heavily involved in the battle for play-off spots.
However, their play-off ambitions were severely hurt by their defeat today. The Titans were dismantled 56-24 by Manly. Making matters worse, Gold Coast led 24-8 after a positive first half. However, a debacle of a second stanza saw the Titans lose the second 40 48-0.
In short, it was embarrassing. The performance was far from what Holbrook would’ve expected and a departure from the clinical St Helens side he oversaw in England.
Unsurprisingly, he was left very unhappy and voiced his disappointment. In modern sport, there’s a tendency to hold back and avoid public criticism of players. Holbrook didn’t adhere to this philosophy: “It’s the lowest I’ve felt watching that second half unfold. It was horrible.
“I don’t think they gave up, they just didn’t know what they were doing and it showed defensively.
“For 40 minutes we didn’t get it back … they got on top and we couldn’t do a thing to stop it.
“They were cutting us open everywhere, all over the field. All of a sudden we went from defending as a team in the first half to defending by ourselves poorly in the second and it showed.
“The second half we never looked like stopping them and that is why we got hammered.
“We let ourselves down and everyone involved in our club.
“It is unacceptable and we’ve got to look at ourselves.”