Saints have appointed Justin Holbrook as the man to succeed Keiron Cunningham as the Coach of the club on a reported 3 year deal. Holbrook will leave his role as Assistant Coach of the Sydney Roosters to take up the job.
Holbrook has also been the Coach of the Australian Junior Kangaroos since 2015, and will fulfil his duties this Friday in coaching the side against the Junior Kiwis in the curtain raiser to the Anzac Test before commencing his role with the Saints.
The Australian, who turned 41 in January, played for the Knights, Panthers and Roosters as a halfback during his career,and after finishing playing, moved into coaching. His previous coaching experience includes working with the Canterbury Bulldogs NSW Cup side, St George Illawarra’s NYC side and prior to being hired by the Roosters, was the head coach of the Parramatta Eels NYC team.
In 2014, under the leadership of Holbrook, the Parramatta Eels Youth side were one of the most improved teams in the competition, narrowly missing out on a Grand Final appearance after finishing 14th in 2013. This led to Holbrook coming to the attention of the Roosters who were looking for an Assistant to replace Jason Taylor, who left to take up a Head Coaching position at West Tigers.
The Roosters opted for Holbrook because of his playing experience in the halves due to to him having a proven track record working with young playmakers. In March, Holbrook was named as one of the top 6 best available coaches in Australia by Aussie RL journo Nick Tedeschi, who stated Holbrook had achieved everywhere he has gone at the sub-NRL level, and had a temperament that was highly regarded.
Holbrook was unlucky to lose out to Nathan Brown for the Newcastle Knights NRL job in 2015, where despite being considered a rank outsider for the job due to his lack of top class coaching experience, in a field containing the likes of Anthony Griffin, Terry Matterson and Garth Brennan he was considered alongside Brown to be one of the standouts.
Holbrook has been linked constantly to a string of NRL Head coaching positions since, so for Saints to attract him over to the Northern Hemisphere could well be deemed as a coup for the club. Hopefully this appointment will see the club continue to develop and promote youth to the first team whilst continuing to demonstrate a more expansive way of playing, whilst Holbrook’s in depth knowledge of the Youth system in Australia could pay off with us finding some under the radar hidden gems.