Could the great southeast Queensland footy coaching upheaval be a thing of the past?
Maybe not, but Stuart Dew’s against-the-odds two-year extension with the AFL’s Gold Coast at least provides a moment of calm after years of volatility across codes.
It means both Gold Coast and Brisbane’s NRL and AFL coaches are locked in until at least the end of next season, as is Queensland Reds Super Rugby Pacific coach Brad Thorn.
That security has been rarely seen in Queensland sport, particularly on the Gold Coast in recent years and comes with a caveat as battling Titans coach Justin Holbrook – signed until 2024 – faces increasing pressure to save his job.
Dew and Thorn were named as their teams’ new coaches on the same day in October 2017 and have undertaken similar rebuilds.
Thorn won last year’s Super Rugby AU title while Dew defied a host of key injuries and the hovering presence of esteemed, available coach Alastair Clarkson to push the Suns into finals contention and secure his future.
Chris Fagan has elevated the Lions to premiership contention since his arrival in 2017 while Kevin Walters has overseen huge improvement to all but secure a 2022 finals berth for the Broncos.
It bucks a trend that’s seen Neil Henry (2014-17) and Garth Brennan (2018-19) lose their posts at the Titans, while Anthony Seibold (2019-20) lasted less than two years at the Broncos in the post-Wayne Bennett era.
Rodney Eade (2015-17) was moved on from the Suns and Nick Stiles (2016-17) lost the faith at Ballymore to complete the set.
Dew won’t relax now that he’s earned more time at a club that’s yet to play finals since its 2011 introduction but been boosted by the long-term retention of most of their emerging stars.
“I just had this thing in my head that if it was one or two per cent off it was going to be a self-fulfilling thing that I wasn’t going to be here,” Dew said.
“I put every inch of my energy into the club and people and I feel like personally I’ve been rewarded, but collectively we’ve been rewarded by everyone’s efforts this year.
“The vision was there, then we got absolute buy-in from the staff and senior players.
“The light at the end of the tunnel is there, we’ve just got to run towards it as quick as we can.”
THE CASUALTIES SINCE 2017
* Neil Henry, Garth Brennan, Gold Coast Titans (NRL)
* Rodney Eade, Gold Coast Suns (AFL)
* Nick Stiles, Queensland Reds (Super Rugby)
* Wayne Bennett, Anthony Seibold, Brisbane Broncos (NRL)
* Stuart Dew, Gold Coast Suns (AFL), until 2024
* Justin Holbrook, Gold Coast Titans (NRL), until 2024
* Chris Fagan, Brisbane Lions (AFL), until 2023
* Kevin Walters, Brisbane Broncos (NRL), until 2023
* Brad Thorn, Queensland Reds (Super Rugby), until 2023.