NRL 1 year ago

Titans coach praised for courage to change

  • Titans coach praised for courage to change

    GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 06: Titans coach Neil Henry looks on during the round one NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Newcastle Knights at Cbus Super Stadium on March 6, 2016 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Jason O'Brien/Getty Images)

The Gold Coast's controversial surge from $151 outsiders to unlikely finalists is being attributed to the conviction of coach Neil Henry, who has been rewarded for a stellar 2016 campaign with a one-year contract extension.

Already signed for next year, an option has been activated following the club's top eight finish that will keep Henry on Queensland's glitterstrip until at least the end of 2018.

Ahead of their first finals appearance since 2010 against Brisbane on Friday, co-captain Nathan Friend has paid tribute to the man known as King.

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While a chorus of knockers began the year writing off the side, Friend said the former Raiders and Cowboys coach had turned the organisation around.

He said Henry's strength of character in moving some players on he thought weren't pulling their weight and attracting Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Peats and Konrad Hurrell had been pivotal.

"He's moved in and he's got rid of the guys he thought weren't worthy of the club and may have inhibited the performance on the field," Friend said.

"And he's recruited really well. He knew what he wanted to get out of the squad and he's got a group of young guys more than capable this year and beyond.

"I see nothing but good going forward."

The Titans began the season teetering on the edge after a string of blows including players in court over a cocaine scandal, the loss of star three-quarter James Roberts to a contract bungle and the departures of playmaker Aidan Sezer and State of Origin prop Nate Myles.

The club's depth was also tested with young halfback Kane Elgey suffering a season-ending knee injury on the first day of pre-season.

Friend said they were now taking pride in proving people wrong.

"The so-called experts thought we were no chance and thought we'd be at the bottom of the table," Friend said.

"We've proven to ourselves, not anyone else, that the effort we put in through the season has amounted to this.

"The young guys we've got there can lift another level come Friday."

While Henry acknowledged the club's difficulties, he deflected praise to his playing group.

"It's been a bit difficult in context of our ownership model too and what we had to do around training facilities, movement, players on contract and moving players as well," Henry said.

"It's all evolving I suppose to try and change the roster, it's not always easy.

"All season they've been willing to work hard for each other. It's a feather in their cap the way they've handled things."

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