NRL 2022: Corey Parker offers to help Gold Coast Titans coach Justin Holbrook
The Titans are looking to bring premiership-winners to help under-pressure coach Justin Holbrook, and a former Bronco says he’s the man to help save the club.
Broncos legend Corey Parker has made a sensational offer to help save the embattled Gold Coast Titans.
Parker has offered to join under-pressure Titans coach Justin Holbrook’s coaching staff in a bid to turn around the Gold Coast as it heads for a third wooden spoon.
The second-most capped player in Brisbane’s 34-year history with 347 NRL games, Parker is keen to join the Broncos’ M1 rival to help resurrect the Titans.
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Holbrook is beefing up his football department for 2023 following the axing of assistant coach Jim Dymock and fitness chief Klint Hoare, with Titans powerbrokers declaring they will give the head coach all the support he needs to save his career.
And Parker, a former Kangaroos and Queensland Origin star, has thrown his hand up to help the rudderless Titans.
Parker, 40, alluded to his interest in helping the Titans on SEN Radio and confirmed he wanted a coaching position to The Courier-Mail on Tuesday.
“Would I help them out? Yes. What that looks like would have to be up to them,” he said.
“They’ve got some great players, they really do, and a lot of upside. I’ve worked with David Fifita and those sorts of guys already.
“But they’ve got a soft underbelly about what they do. If there was an opportunity for me to help them out, I would certainly explore that.
“I had a role at Brisbane for a period of time but coaching is an itch that you always have. It goes away then comes back.
“If there was an opportunity to explore that at the Titans I would consider it.”
Parker retired from the NRL in 2016 following a sensational career which took him within a whisker of Darren Lockyer’s 355-game Broncos record.
The tireless forward featured in Brisbane’s 2006 premiership team, played in the 2015 grand final loss to North Queensland and also made 19 Origin appearances to go with 13 Kangaroos caps.
With Canterbury great Dymock departing abruptly last month, Holbrook’s support staff is lacking genuine NRL pedigree and profile.
That could change with a proven performer like Parker, who admitted star power was important when it came to coaching the modern day NRL player.
“I’ve seen it first hand at Brisbane with the millennial player,” he said.
“If you’ve been there and done that, it matters. Whether you’ve won a comp, played State of Origin or for your country … it carries a lot of weight.
“It shouldn’t because you should respect your coach if you’re a player. But with the modern day player it just doesn’t happen like that.
“I’ve seen players that don’t react to assistant coaches who don’t have the experience or runs on the board. They don’t resonate with the players.
“In the same breath, just because you’ve done a lot in the game doesn’t make you a good coach.
“From a personal level, I believe I could bring some value. Footy games are generally won and lost between Monday and Friday. That’s what I believe.”
The Titans boast a stacked forward pack with the likes of Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, David Fifita and Moeaki Fotuaika, who Parker believes he can help improve as players.
Parker, who still trains hard and practices the standards he preaches, could become the second Broncos great to join the Titans, with Gorden Tallis throwing his support behind the Gold Coast as an off-field “ambassador”.
Parker was an assistant to former Broncos coaches Anthony Seibold and Wayne Bennett before severing ties with current Brisbane boss Kevin Walters.
But he still has a burning desire to coach and believes he can help transform the Titans following the disaster of 2022, in which they have only won three games ahead of Sunday’s clash against Manly.
“The Broncos are in my DNA but that doesn’t mean I can’t do what I believe in with other people,” Parker said.
“It is what it is. The door may or may not have shut at Brisbane, I don’t know. At the moment I don’t see them changing anything they’ve got going on, which is fine.
“I genuinely feel if I was able to have an opportunity with the Titans, based on where they’re at, I can be of some value.
“My strength is to stay in my own lane – that’s with the forwards. The head coach would have to be accepting and wanting of that.
“I really like Justin Holbrook from my dealings with him. I don’t know what makes him tick and the finer details, but from the conversations I’ve had with him, I like his intel and thought process on the game.
“Queensland now has four NRL teams (Dolphins joining next year) and it’s a good thing for rugby league when Queensland teams are going well.
“I feel the qualities I have would work to benefit what I’ve seen from the Titans.”
TITANS TARGET TITLE WINNERS TO HELP UNDERFIRE HOLBROOK
—Peter Badel & Travis Meyn
The Titans have drawn up a hit list of the code’s most successful premiership-winning mentors in a bid to help underfire coach Justin Holbrook rebuild the embattled Gold Coast next season.
As revealed by News Corp, former Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has been flagged as a possible assistant and premiership duo Paul Green and Michael Maguire are also on the radar as options to support Holbrook in the battle to save his job.
There were fears a heavy loss to Melbourne at AAMI Park on Friday night could herald the sacking of Holbrook, but Titans chairman Dennis Watt insists the 46-year-old is safe and will get a shot at redemption next season.
In a bid to give Holbrook every chance to lead a recovery mission, the Titans are leaving no stone unturned, identifying some of the code’s most decorated mentors to beef-up their coaching unit for 2023.
The Titans have yet to make formal offers but the likes of Flanagan, Green and Maguire are viewed as the type of proven performers who can help Holbrook reignite the Gold Coast as a finals force.
Maguire, Green and Flanagan celebrated maiden premiership rings in three successive seasons. Maguire helped Souths to the title in 2014, Green broke through with the Cowboys the following season and Flanagan smashed Cronulla’s 50-year premiership hoodoo in 2016.
Holbrook will be consulted on his right-hand man to replace Jim Dymock and Watt says Titans bosses are determined to give their coach the best available resources to lead a Gold Coast rescue.
“Justin is our head coach and we’re backing him,” Watt told News Corp. “We want to be surrounding him with strong assistants and the best available people in the game.
“It’s been a tough season for us but our focus now is giving Justin what he needs to succeed.”
Asked on Brisbane radio if Flanagan is a possible assistant for Holbrook, Watt added: “If you’re going to put a list together of the most capable and celebrated in the game, he (Flanagan) would certainly be on that list.”
Money could be one impediment to securing one of the high-profile trio.
NRL assistant coaches earn between $130,000-$250,000 a season and Flanagan, Green or Maguire could be out of the Titans’ price range.
Flanagan has not been formally approached by Gold Coast at this stage, but is open to helping out, saying the Titans must find their soul as a football club.
“The Titans don’t have an identity at the moment,” he said.
“They need to find out what they are good at and make a mark.
“With the Dolphins coming in, they could risk being the third poor brother to the two Brisbane teams if they don’t pull their finger out.
“The Titans have some good young forwards like Tino (Fa’asuamaleaui), but they need to sort out their halves and fullback if they want to get back up there again as a finals team.”
A loss to the Storm would represent the last-placed Titans’ 10th consecutive loss and Holbrook was tight-lipped about his future assistant.
“We know we’ve got to fill an assistant coach (role),” he said.
“We haven’t made a decision on that or spoken to anybody yet. We’re looking at all options and we’ll decide over the coming weeks.
“There’s no top target. It’s like every other club, assistants change and nothing really gets mentioned. There’s no-one in line at this stage. We’re looking at all options. We are collating ones that are available, ones interested and we’ll go from there.”
Titans tee-up rich deal to tempt Hunt
Gold Coast has started a shock big-money pursuit of St George Illawarra and Queensland star Ben Hunt.
The Titans — along with five other NRL clubs — are working on lodging a rich deal for Hunt from 2024 after his $1m-a-year contract expires at the Dragons.
And in another massive twist, News Corp can reveal Gold Coast have discussed Hunt moving to Robina from next season.
Gold Coast have been making direct inquiries about Hunt as the club builds a substantial package for the Maroons champion.
It is known Titans chairman Dennis Watt is a massive Hunt fan from their days together at Brisbane.
The Dragons are aware of Gold Coast’s interest in Hunt, who scored the matchwinning try for Queensland in the State of Origin decider this year in Brisbane.
Hunt is particularly close to Dragons coach Anthony Griffin, who will ignore pleas and refuse to allow his star halfback to leave a season early.
The Dragons remain supremely confident Hunt will spurn all interest and re-sign. Hunt has not indicated he wants to depart Saints a year early.
Gold Coast cannot formally lodge an offer for Hunt until November 1 given he has another season at St George Illawarra.
Hunt’s possible defection could give Gold Coast a halves pairing of Hunt and Manly’s Kieran Foran.
Hunt, 32, is among the favourites to capture this year’s Dally M Medal – the highest individual accolade in rugby league.
Given his age, Gold Coast could secure Hunt on a slightly reduced deal. There could be other incentives for Hunt in the Titans offer.
Other NRL clubs are also readying for a shot at Hunt. St George Illawarra is trying to lock Hunt down before he becomes a free agent on November 1.
By joining Gold Coast, Rockhampton-born Hunt would be returning home to Queensland. The Titans are acutely aware their club requires some leadership and experience in their spine.
It is unknown whether Gold Coast’s interest would wane if the club cannot secure Hunt for next season.
Griffin wants Hunt for next season – and beyond. The Dragons hope Hunt will stay long-term and help develop rising young halves Junior Amone and Jayden Sullivan.
St George Illawarra won’t simply allow Hunt to walk away. Just last Thursday, Hunt and Dragons officials met to discuss a contract extension until the end of 2025.
The talks were described as “extremely positive”.
“We have started the process to extend Ben, and we’re very hopeful we can keep him at the club long-term,” St George Illawarra chief executive Ryan Webb said last week.
“He is an important person on the field and has a tremendous impact off it.”
Despite talk of a possible backflip, Foran has committed to his two-year deal with Gold Coast from next season.
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Amone is poised to sign a new deal at the Dragons, rejecting interest from the Dolphins. His current contract expires after 2023.
Hunt played hooker for the Maroons this series but would be used primarily as a halfback if signed by Gold Coast.
Originally published as NRL 2022: Corey Parker offers to help Gold Coast Titans coach Justin Holbrook