Senior Titans Greg Bird and Luke Bailey say Gold Coast’s comprehensive review of the NRL club’s operations has been a long time coming.
Gold Coast have made only two NRL finals series in eight years under John Cartwright but the Titans are stressing their comprehensive club review is not a coaching witch hunt.
Chief executive Graham Annesley was at pains on Thursday to assure the board-driven review of on and off-field operations was designed to address deficiencies in all facets of the club.
Revenue and fan access to their Queensland Government-run stadium at Robina are two of the biggest issues the cash-strapped club is confronting as they sit 13th on the NRL ladder.
But the patience of some Titans’ fans has worn out as they’ve taken their frustrations out on the foundation coach with a “Sack Carty” campaign.
Co-captain Greg Bird and veteran prop Luke Bailey both leapt to Cartwright’s defence, instead laying the blame for their current plight with the playing group.
“He’s done the best he can, he’s given us the simplest game plan to follow and we’re not doing that, so most of the blame has to fall on the players,” Bailey said.
With two years to run on his five-year contract, Cartwright is also under pressure for only taking his team to two finals series – the last back in 2010.
While free-agent Wayne Bennett is seen as too expensive, the Titans do have an experienced NRL coach Neil Henry at the club assisting Cartwright.
Annesley has headed the review and wants to deliver results to the four-person board within weeks to ensure changes can be made swiftly.
“This is not a John Cartwright witch hunt,” Annesley said of the review. “This is about all aspects of our business. We’ve got a whole range of issues we need to confront.
“On-field performance is one of them but that ebbs and flows. We all know that – that’s part of sport.”
Annesley also denied Bennett was on the club’s radar.
Unable to pin-point the reason for a mid-season slump after leading the competition in round six, Bird believes the Titans are paying for a drop in confidence.
“Carty has been the heart and soul of this squad for a very long time now,” the NSW forward said. “I know all the players are going to stick by him no matter what.
“The best people to get us out of this (hole) are right here now.”
Bailey has been with Cartwright since the club’s inception in 2007 and felt the review was “a long time coming”.
The former club captain said a strong culture remained but he admitted they had let themselves down with embarrassing home losses, including Sunday’s 36-20 upset defeat to Canberra.