In just a week after Adam O’Brien, the coach for Newcastle Knights, got his contract extension requests declined, he has discovered that the club has been in talks with Justin Holbrook, the former coach for Gold Coast Titans. This revelation has come as a major surprise to O’Brien as he was not informed about it. His contract isn’t due to expire until the end of 2024.
Once teetering on the brink of dismissal just a month ago, O’Brien currently stands to see his side entering the finals, courtesy of four continuous wins over a month-long period. This significant transformation in the team’s performance, however, hasn’t guaranteed him an extension.
Phil Gardner, the chief executive of the Knights, had a meeting with O’Brien’s manager Isaac Moses. The coach’s agent put forward the idea of extending the contract period but it was dismissed under uncertain circumstances.
This scenario rings deja vu to what happened back in 2019 when Nathan Brown, the then-head coach for Newcastle Knights, quit after being informed about a meeting between Troy Pezet, the former recruitment manager for Knights, and Adam O’Brien, then an assistant coach for Sydney Roosters. This meeting took place without Brown’s knowledge, under the instructions from the club board.
Anonymously stated by sources close to the matter, O’Brien requested clarity about the future of his coaching staff members who remain off-contract. It has been confirmed that O’Brien’s assistant coach, Rory Kostjasyn, has had his contract extended, while Blake Green is rumoured to be headed to Manly Sea Eagles after his contract period ends next year.
Green was reportedly considering other options six weeks ago when O’Brien was almost facing termination from the Knights. If the Knights manage to stay in the finals slot, O’Brien might retain Green for another year.
Despite having his tenure saddled with player injuries, O’Brien has still steered his team through to the finals twice in his three-year stint starting 2020. Currently positioned ninth, just one point short of the top eight, the Knights still have five games remaining.
Meanwhile, Justin Holbrook, who started at Titans the same time O’Brien did at Knights, has had a lone finals appearance. His tenure was cut short and he was replaced with Des Hasler halfway through the year.
In signing news, the Knights are closely chasing the contract of Jack Cogger from Penrith Panthers. This 25-year-old is also being pursued by Wests Tigers, as the Knights have proposed a three-year deal to him. Panthers had previously offered him a one-year contract but have since come in late with a revised two-year offer. The decision is expected to be finalised in the upcoming week.
In injury news, Sharks‘ full-back, Will Kennedy is likely to be ruled out for the rest of the season due to a severe hamstring injury. Nicho Hynes has offered to switch from halfback to fullback. The club is also considering moving Matt Moylan to the fullback position.
In comeback news, Ryan Papenhuyzen, the Melbourne Storm superstar, has his return pending after a year-long hiatus from the game. On the other hand, Luke Thompson from Canterbury Bulldogs has returned after five months of suffering a foot injury during training.
Lastly, it has been an eventful week for Moses Mbye as he played his debut game for St Helens after leaving St George Illawarra. He immediately took to training with his new team and helped his team defeat Leeds Rhinos by 22-18.