Despite Neil Henry’s uncomfortable departure from the Gold Coast Titans, he is still urging the public to get behind the team.
Henry was cast aside by the Titans despite an improbable finals appearance last year, which has been followed by a controversial 2017 season.
Chief executive Graham Annesley insisted the move was not “player-driven” and Henry remained loyal to the club.
In a statement provided to the ABC, the coach thanked the fans for backing him over the past three years.
“I am saddened not to be able to continue to work for them to produce a team that they can all be proud of,” he said.
“But also, I encourage them to stick with the club and support the players.
“The Gold Coast is a rugby league heartland and deserves a team to cheer for.”
Most players were camera-shy the day after the decision was announced, but captain Ryan James said the sacking took him by surprise.
“It’s obviously a shock [but] we can’t do much about it,” he said.
“The board have made their decision [and] we’re going to have to move on.”
A week before Henry was let go, hooker Nathan Peats labelled talk of a player revolt against the coach “a load of shit”.
We may never know exactly how much of a role Jarryd Hayne played in Neil Henry’s demise. (AAP: Dan Peled)
Annesley was adamant Henry’s departure came down to “a range of issues”, but even he could not deny the relationship between Henry and Hayne sparked discussions.
“I know in the media it’s been very much focused on a head-to-head issue between Neil and Jarryd,” Annesley said on Monday.
“But that was really just the catalyst that brought the issue to the fore and meant that it needed to be addressed before we got to the end of the season.”
Assistant coaches Terry Matterson and Craig Hodges will take the reins for the final two rounds of the year, while the club starts its search for a long-term option.