Nathan Friend has credited Gold Coast’s unlikely surge to the NRL finals to Neil Henry’s courage in cutting players he saw as dead wood from the club.
Coach Henry has been rewarded with a one-year contract extension after guiding the Titans – who started the year as $151 premiership outsiders – to eighth spot.
He was contracted until the end of 2017 but had a clause in his contract which extended his stay until the end of 2018 if they made the top eight.
Titans co-captain Friend said Henry’s commitment to execute his plan for the side despite a chorus of knockers writing them off had turned around the organisation.
He said Henry’s strength of character in moving on some players who he thought weren’t pulling their weight – and attracting the likes of Jarryd Hayne and Nathan Peats – had proved a turning point.
“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 that are 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 the cocaine scandal, the loss of James Roberts to a contract bungle, as well as the departure of Aidan Sezer and Nate Myles.
Speaking at the launch of the NRL finals in Sydney ahead of their elimination final against Brisbane, Friend said they were taking pride in proving people wrong.
“This is more than I would have dreamed of coming back to the Coast and more than you guys (the media) gave us credit for,” Friend said.
“It’s great not just for me, it’s great for the squad. I think we’ve got the belief in ourselves that anything’s possible.”