The Walker brothers, Ipswich Jets coaches Ben and Shane, have put their hands up to replace Neil Henry in the belief they are capable of doing what no other coaches could – consistently get the best out of Jarryd Hayne.
The Walkers have emerged as the latest contenders for the head coaching role at the Titans as the fallout on the holiday strip continues.
Henry’s former assistants, Terry Matterson and Craig Hodges, will take over in an interim capacity for the remaining two rounds and will be considered if they apply for the role on a full-time basis.
Kevin Walters is the early front-runner for the vacant position, with reports out of Queensland on Tuesday indicating the Maroons coach was keen to replace Henry.
Others in the mix include Penrith reserve grade coach Garth Brennan, former Manly mentor Geoff Toovey and South Sydney assistant Anthony Seibold. Canterbury coach Des Hasler and South Sydney mentor Michael Maguire would also come under consideration if they parted ways with their current clubs.
The Walkers could be a left-field solution. Ben and Shane Walker have revolutionised the way rugby league is played in the Queensland Cup since taking over at the Jets. While most teams focus on completion rates, their emphasis is on time with the football in hand, with their homespun philosophy resulting in an attractive attacking style and a 2015 premiership.
The siblings recently engaged a manager and believe their methods are transferable to the Gold Coast.
“We’ve done a fair apprenticeship and we know we’re ready to take on an NRL role,” Shane Walker said.
“There’s a lot of potential there [at the Titans]. They haven’t won a comp, which is certainly what motivates us, winning comps. That’s why we do what we do.
“There is a really good roster too.”
One of the biggest challenges for the incoming Titans coach is managing Hayne. The enigmatic fullback fell out with Henry, who was the casualty when the relationship was damaged beyond repair.
Given Hayne is on $1.2 million next season, the Titans are stuck with him until his contract expires. However, the Walkers believe they can succeed where other coaches have failed.
“He’s a good player and I think we could get the best out of him,” Shane Walker said.
“In our time so far as coaches, I can say with my hand on my heart that there hasn’t been anyone we haven’t been able to get the best out of. I’m not saying we’re the sole reason but Benny Hunt came back to us well and truly out of form. In his week with us, we certainly returned him a much happier footballer who is playing well at the moment.
“Ben Hannant did his time and it was the same thing. We get the best out of people.”
The Walkers have made a successful transition from the playing to coaching ranks and believe they are ready for the next step. While some may view them as a potential risk at the highest level, the siblings don’t see it that way.
“For the guys who run the club, they are driven by commercial outcomes,” Shane Walker said.
“Our chairman relayed some stats that when the Jets play a Channel Nine game, there is a 27 per cent spike in viewers.
“People enjoy the way we play and being entertained. Commercially, I don’t think it would be a brave decision and football wise it would make sense.”