St.Helens R.F.C have confirmed that Head Coach Justin Holbrook will leave the club at the end of the current season to take up a contract with NRL side, the Gold Coast Titans.
Holbrook has enjoyed an impressive tenure in Super League since arriving at Saints midway through 2017 having just short of an 80% win ratio as Head Coach. He steered the club to the playoff semi-finals in 2017 before leading the Saints to the League Leaders’ Shield in 2018 followed by the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup and Super League.
This year, St.Helens are currently 10 points clear at the top of Super League and have reached the Challenge Cup final at Wembley for the first time in over a decade, with a treble on the cards.
Before arriving at Saints, Holbrook, 43, worked with the Sydney Roosters, where he was part of the coaching team that won the NRL minor premiership in 2015. He also previously worked at Canterbury, St George and Parramatta and was in charge of the Australia Under-20 side and he will return to the NRL to take up the Head Coach positon at the Gold Coast Titans at the end of the 2019 season.
Justin Holbrook said: “It has been an extremely tough decision to leave such a great club in St.Helens. Since I arrived here in 2017, everyone at the club and the fans have been brilliant to myself and my family and we have loved our time here.
“Eamonn McManus, Mike Rush and the board wanted me to stay and did everything they could, which I greatly appreciated, but an opportunity to return home to the NRL is what I feel I need to do. It is very difficult as the only time I would get an opportunity like that is when we are winning and doing well as a club, which makes the decision even harder for me.
“I want to pay a huge thankyou to my staff who are all excellent at what they do and especially the players who make coming to work enjoyable every day. The main thing for me is that I know the club is in a great position moving forward.
“Finally, with a Wembley Cup Final coming up as well as the Super League playoffs, I want to make it clear that I am fully committed and focussed on St.Helens and I am determined to lead this great club to the success it deserves in 2019.”
Eamonn McManus, Chairman of St.Helens R.F.C said: “From a St.Helens perspective, we are clearly disappointed that Justin has ultimately decided not to enter into a new contract with us. We did everything practical to persuade him to stay, but we must respect his decision to join the Gold Coast Titans and to return to Australia with his young family. We wish him every success and more in his career and life ahead.
“We will leave the real thank you’s and goodbyes until the end of the season. There are jobs to do and titles to be won, before then at Wembley and at Old Trafford and all focus must and will be on those. Justin and the entire club are now interested in that and that alone.
“We will immediately commence the search for a top class replacement and are confident that the Saints will successfully appoint one. We have a fantastic young squad which we fully intend to improve further in the seasons ahead.”
Everyone at St.Helens R.F.C wishes to place on record its thanks to Justin and wishes him well for the future.
The club will be making no further comment at this time on Justin or his replacement until after the Challenge Cup Final, at the earliest.