Des Hasler coaching bombshell leaves NRL world in state of shock

News of the former Manly premiership-winning coach's shock return has left fans stunned.

Pictured left to right, Des Hasler and Justin Holbrook.
Des Hasler will take over as Titans coach in 2024, with Justin Holbrook sacked from his role, effective immediately. Pic: Getty

The Titans have left fans in a state of shock after announcing that Des Hasler will replace Justin Holbrook as Gold Coast's coach from 2024. Thursday's stunning news took the league world completely off guard, with Hasler's name only really being mentioned as a potential successor to under-fire NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler.

Gold Coast announced that Holbrook would leave the club effective immediately, with the side currently sitting just out of finals contention in ninth. The Titans are yet to confirm who will take over as interim coach for this weekend's blockbuster clash against state rivals, Brisbane.

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Holbrook led the Titans to the finals once in three full seasons in charge and posted an underwhelming 38 per cent winning rate from his 82 games at the helm - perhaps making his exit not all that surprising. "We are here to bring success to the Gold Coast and in order to do so we feel that this is the change necessary to deliver on our promise which is to win premierships," said Titans CEO Steve Mitchell.

What has come as a surprise to most is the appointment of Hasler and Gold Coast's ability to keep the issue under wraps, particularly in a league-mad state such as Queensland. Hasler joins the club after being fired from his second stint at the Sea Eagles, following the fallout of the club's Pride jersey saga last season.

Pictured right is former Manly NRL coach Des Hasler.
Des Hasler was shown the door at Manly after a disastrous 2022 season punctuated by the infamous Pride jersey scandal. Pic: Getty

Curiously though, the former Manly mentor will not take up his new role until 2024 in a move that suggests the Titans are heavily focused on next season. What that means for their current campaign remains to be seen, with the club tied on 18 points with the 8th-placed Eels and very much still in finals calculations.

Hasler has a tremendous track record in Australian rugby league, having won a premiership with Manly as a player before coaching the Sea Eagles to two more - in 2008 and 2011. He also coached the Canterbury Bulldogs to two grand-final appearances in 2012 and 2014 and has coached 458 first grade games for 258 victories - a winning record of a very respectable 56%.

"I'm looking forward to joining the Titans and to the 2024 season," Hasler said on Thursday. "The club has a strong playing roster, the region is blessed with emerging talent and the organisation is firmly embedded in the community. I'm confident we can deliver success to the region in the coming seasons."

League world stunned by shock Des Hasler news

League fans were quick to react to the Titans' coaching bombshell on Thursday. Many argued that Hasler was exactly the type of experienced mentor to take Gold Coast to the next level, while others marvelled at how the Titans were able to keep such a big development unfair wraps.

with AAP

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