He isn’t promising miracles but Neil Henry says rebuilding Gold Coast is an exciting challenge after being appointed as the NRL club’s new coach.
He won’t promise miracles but new Gold Coast coach Neil Henry is confident he’s the man to rebuild the battered Titans.
The 53-year-old was confirmed as the man to replace foundation coach John Cartwright on Tuesday, with the NRL club appointing Henry on a three-year deal.
It’s the former North Queensland and Canberra coach’s third NRL job and possibly the toughest he’s taken on.
Despite being the early competition frontrunners, the Titans have endured a horror season, losing all but two of their home matches and missing out on finals for the fourth successive season.
The club is undertaking a full review of its football operations but things have hardly got better since Henry took over in an interim basis following Cartwright’s resignation in August.
If Henry, an assistant to Cartwright at the Titans following his sacking by the Cowboys in 2013, had any illusions of the job at hand he’s quickly been brought to reality in the past three weeks.
“It’s going to be a challenge but I’m excited about the opportunity,” Henry said.
“I’d hope that if we’re all healthy next year and we have a good run that we’d be pushing up into that eighth position. We all want to play finals football and it has been a few years here and we need to start getting up towards finals.”
Henry says replacing the near 800-games of experience which will be missing from the club in 2015 following the departures of veteran forwards Ashley Harrison, Luke Bailey and Mark Minichiello as well as securing a “strike outside back” will be his chief recruitment aims following Sunday’s final round home clash against Canterbury.
Newcastle’s Queensland and Australia representative Darius Boyd has been mentioned as a target, with Henry himself saying he’d be keen to sign the 27-year-old.
He says some signings for next season will be announced shortly but Titans’ fans shouldn’t expect a massive overhaul of the club’s playing stocks.
“We’re all realistic with the board that we know it’s going to be a building process for us,” he said.
“We’re looking at getting some juniors coming through our system as well … hopefully we start to get a flow-on effect anyway, we’ll start producing our own juniors.
“It’s going to be a challenge with the cap. We do have a lot of players coming off next year so there’s an opportunity to really be in the marketplace after next season.
“With all this you need to get your recruitment right. You need to get the quality players here and improve other players that are coming through.”
Titans chief executive Graham Annesley said Henry was one of several candidates for the position but having the opportunity to sign an experienced NRL coach already familiar with the club was too good to pass up.
He said there was no fear in offering Henry a three-year deal as that was only fair for a coach of his experience.
“I don’t think anyone is under any illusion that this can be turned around overnight, there are no magic wands,” Annesley said.
“We know it’s going to be a difficult task. We need our people to be patient, we need our members to be patient, we need our partners to be patient but I think they are entitled to expect improved performances and that’s where we’re heading.”
KING OF THE TITANS – Neil Henry’s NRL coaching record
2007-08: Canberra – 49 games, 22 wins, 27 losses (44.9% win)
2009-13: North Queensland – 124 games, 58 wins, 66 losses (46.8% win)
2014: Gold Coast (interim) – 3 games, 3 losses (0% win)
Overall: 176 games, 80 wins, 96 losses (45.45% win)
* Dally M coach of the year in 2008