Gold Coast coach Neil Henry has lost the clash of the Titans, discarded in favour of Jarryd Hayne with one season and two games to run on his contract.
Titans chief executive Graham Annesley announced on Monday that the much-publicised rift between the pair was just one factor in the decision.
But he offered few other explanations when asked why the club’s board made the call.
Henry was advised of his termination on Saturday but still trained the side on Monday, when players Jarrod Wallace and Kevin Proctor were vocal in their coach’s support.
Annesley claimed that solidarity was genuine, however indicated that Hayne’s public stoush with Henry had sparked boardroom action.
“The people involved are polarising in some ways and some of the issues are polarising as well,” Annesley said.
“The board had to weigh up all of the information and the board are the only ones with all of the information.
“There is much focus on this head-to-head issue, but that was just the catalyst that brought the issue to the fore and meant it needed to be addressed before we got to the end of the season.”
Both men were called to an emergency board meeting last Monday, before further reports of player discontent surfaced last week.
The board reconvened on Saturday to deliver the final verdict.
Henry’s payout is believed to be around $400,000, while Hayne is earning $1.2 million a season on the Gold Coast – Annesley saying “of course” finances were a factor in the final decision.
Taking over as head coach at the end of 2014 following the departure of John Cartwright, Henry led the Titans to their first finals appearance in six years in 2016.
Hayne was added to the Titans’ roster in the midst of that finals run, the club expected to make the leap from also-rans to contenders as a result.
Instead they are sitting 14th on the back of five straight losses.
Hayne is contracted until the end of the 2018 season and his own future at the club remains unclear.
Annesley was robotic when asked of Hayne’s standing, saying “like all of our contracted players he will be expected to perform his contractual obligations”.
Assistants Terry Matterson and Craig Hodges will take over from Henry in the short term, Kevin Walters among those being touted for the top job.
Annesley said the playing group had accepted the board’s decision, despite believing the leadership group had been genuine in their support of Henry.
“I hope that’s not the case … splintering is not going to be good for anyone,” Annesley said when asked of his fears of a player divide.
“I don’t think anyone takes any great benefit out of what’s happened today … hopefully the club will pick up the pieces.”
The Titans hope to appoint a new coach by early November.