Coach Henry Bolstered by Return of Douglas

Neil Henry. Image: commons.wikimedia.org

2014 NRL whipping boys the Gold Coast Titans have been boosted with the return of Luke Douglas. Douglas had his 215 consecutive match streak ended last year when he was swept up in the ASADA investigation into illegal use of peptides by former Cronulla players.

By admitting their involvement Luke Douglas, Albert Kelly and 17 other past and present Cronulla players received a one-year ban (backdated from August).

The ‘slap-on-the-wrist punishment was roundly condemned by all professional sports people as it effectively meant players played during their ban.

Red faced NRL executive, coaches and players just want the whole affair to die quietly.

Since the Titans didn’t make the finals Douglas and Kelly effectively sat out one month of their twelve month suspension.

But new Titan’s coach Neil Henry is just glad to have him back. After the execution of his predecessor, John Cartwright, Henry is under enormous pressure to deliver results. He is hoping those results come from the new tier of experienced players, like Douglas and Kelly, after the departure of club old timers Luke Bailey, Mark Minichiello and Ashley Harrison.

But one has to wonder what sort of example they set – confessed drug cheats who escaped punishments.

Coach Henry has taken the unusual step of moving one of the fastest men in the NRL, winger Anthony Don, into the centres. He has also begun pre-season training earlier in the year, at a new venue (an all-boys high school), with his own limited experience of the club, its culture and people. In the end he has to gel a rag-tag group of beaten individuals, with little experience of playing together, into a team. And then send them into one of the fiercest competitive environments in Australian professional sports.

Good luck to him.

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