Saints’ fans with limited knowledge of the world scene will be forgiven for asking: Who is Justin Holbrook?
Certainly not top of the tree as the person likely to take over as head coach following the departure of the legendary Keiron Cunningham and now charged with the responsibility of restoring stability at a club which is currently languishing in a far from satisfactory position in the Betfred Super League.
Chief executive Mike Rush, who has recently returned from Australia after laying the foundations for Holbrook’s move to the UK, will obviously have had a key input to Saints’ decision - and hopefully he will have hit the nail on the head.
The former Sydney Roosters no. 2 is rated highly Down Under and since ending his playing career has gained invaluable experience as a coach with Canterbury Bulldogs NSW Cup team, St George Illawarra’s NYC side and prior to being hired by the Roosters he was head coach of Parramatta Eels NYC team in 2014 and under his leadership they were one of the most improved sides in the competition.
It is worth remembering that Daniel Anderson, perhaps Saints most successful coach of the Super League era, was hardly a household name when he moved from the New Zealand Warriors to Saints as top man in 2005 and like Holbrook’s appointment it was a surprise move at the time.
But Anderson enjoyed unprecedented success during his short stay - three Challenge Cup victories (2006, 2007 and 2008), a Grand Final win (2006) and a World Club Challenge title (2007).
If Holbrook can come anywhere near matching his fellow Aussie’s feats then Saints’ supporters, who have been starved of success since their 2014 Grand Final win over Wigan Warriors, will be doubly delighted.