New Titans favourite as Kevvie declines interview
Sydney Roosters and NSW Origin assistant Craig Fitgibbon has emerged as the early favourite to replace sacked Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan after Kevin Walters formally ruled himself out of the running for the Titans' job.
In a titanic setback for the Gold Coast, Queensland coach Walters said he wouldn't even accept an interview and would focus purely on trying to turn around the Maroons after losing back-to-back Origin series.
Brennan, who was officially sacked on Sunday, was actually told of his demise on Saturday, 48 hours before the Titans board was expected to see, for the first time, the results of Mal Meninga's internal review into the club.
News Corp Australia can reveal Fitzgibbon, fellow Roosters assistant Adam O'Brien and St Helens coach Justin Holbrook are three contenders.
Fitzgibbon is early favourite although Holbrook, who also coached Parramatta's under 20s, has significant support.
Canterbury have also shown considerable interest in Holbrook, who is baulking at re-signing with St Helens.
O'Brien is unlikely to accept any offer and will remain in Sydney. It is known Fitzgibbon would be interested in the job.
Other possible candidates include Trent Barrett, Ben Walker and Anthony Griffin.
Walters was thought to be a certainty for the Titans job but formally pulled out on Sunday afternoon.
Gold Coast have won just four of 16 matches this season.
"It's got to be the right opportunity. Right now, I know there is more work to be done with Queensland. I started it and I want to be there to finish it," Walters said.
"I won't take an interview, I want to stay with Queensland. I am really committed to Queensland and getting things right that we didn't quite get right this year. That's where my heart really lies.
"For me, you have to be really passionate about things and I am so passionate about Queensland. I want to get that right.
"I have always said that if the timing was right and the position was right then I would (coach NRL). At the moment, there is still more work to do with Queensland.
"It was an easy decision. Queensland was really close in a lot of areas and I feel we can make that difference up next year and I want to be part of that, it's driving me."
Walters wouldn't be drawn into whether he would have taken the Titans job had Queensland won this year's series.
"We didn't win. I like to win, that's what I like to do," he said.
"At the moment, winning isn't there for Queensland. When we took the team over we were winning and we won for the last couple of years but the last couple of years we dropped. That doesn't sit nicely with me.
"The hunger for me is to be successful, no matter what I'm doing. Whether that is on FOX or coaching Queensland. If that is one day in the NRL… maybe one day I would like to go on and coach Australia. I love the rep scene.
"Working with elite players is something that you don't get in club land so that part of it is really good as well. That's where I am sitting at the moment. There is always opportunities. I see Queensland as a great opportunity."
Titans assistant coaches Craig Hodges and Luke Burt will share interim coaching responsibilities for the remainder of this season.
The club said a new head coach would be appointed "at a later date."
Gold Coast issued a statement on Sunday afternoon ending Brennan's tenure at the club.
"No one at this organisation, or anyone involved in rugby league, wanted Garth's time as head coach of the Titans to end this way," said Titans executive chairman, Dennis Watt.
"However, the results the club has achieved on the field this season have not met expectations, and the team's performance in recent weeks has fallen to a level that is unacceptable to the board, our members, fans, sponsors and partners.
"Unfortunately, that has left the club in a situation where Garth remaining in the position of head coach has become untenable."
Walters rejected suggestions he didn't want to coach a modest roster.
"We have seen in the past teams can be turned around pretty quickly. I have to turn this Queensland team around, that's what I have to do," he said.