St Helens have confirmed the departure of head coach Justin Holbrook to Gold Coast Titans at the end of the season.
The Australian will take up an initial two-year contract with the Titans after he completes his time with St Helens.
Holbrook arrived at the club midway through the 2017 season and had an immediate impact on the side, guiding them from mid-table into the play-off places by the end of the season.
A Golden Point defeat to Castleford saw them miss out on a Grand Final appearance in his maiden campaign, but in 2018 their impressive form continued as they eased to League Leaders’ Shield success, topping the table by six points.
Saints would end the season without a major trophy after semi-final defeats to Catalans and Warrington in the Challenge Cup and play-offs respectively.
But 2019 has seen them go one step further, with their win over Halifax seeing them reach their first Challenge Cup Final in 11 years. In Super League, they are ten points clear at the top of the table.
Saints’ form caught the eye of the Titans, who have lured him to the club with his contract expiring at the end of the season.
“It has been an extremely tough decision to leave such a great club in St.Helens,” Holbrook said.
“Since I arrived here in 2017, everyone at the club and the fans have been brilliant to myself and my family and we have loved our time here.
“Eamonn McManus, Mike Rush and the board wanted me to stay and did everything they could, which I greatly appreciated, but an opportunity to return home to the NRL is what I feel I need to do. It is very difficult as the only time I would get an opportunity like that is when we are winning and doing well as a club, which makes the decision even harder for me.
“I want to pay a huge thank you to my staff who are all excellent at what they do and especially the players who make coming to work enjoyable every day. The main thing for me is that I know the club is in a great position moving forward.
“Finally, with a Wembley Cup Final coming up as well as the Super League playoffs, I want to make it clear that I am fully committed and focussed on St.Helens and I am determined to lead this great club to the success it deserves in 2019.”
Saints have confirmed they will not make an announcement on the next head coach before the Challenge Cup Final.