Garth Brennan wasn't sure about getting back involved in rugby league.
Not after living through the pain of his brutal exit from the Gold Coast Titans after his sacking as coach in 2019. He had a local job in real estate, well away from the pressures of the NRL, and was enjoying a regular life again with his family at Stockton.
Even when Knights CEO Phil Gardner called to sound him out about returning to the club to head up a newly expanded pathways role, he didn't instantly jump at it.
"I didn't apply for the job even though I had people ringing me, including Gus [Phil Gould], telling me that was the job for me,"Brennan said. "Even when Phil rang and asked to meet up, I was probably thinking 'thanks, but no thanks'.
"But after talking to Phil and Adam [coach O'Brien] and seeing the people already involved with the club and those coming in like Hayden Knowles [new head of high performance] who is a close mate, there was a real attraction.
"That and the fact that I'm passionate about developing kids and it's home. It means that much more to me because it's Newcastle."
Brennan's charter will be to virtually run the club from NSW Cup down to Harold Matthews Under 17's and everything in between to ready players for the NRL. He'll select the coaches and put all the staffing in place around it to allow O'Brien to concentrate soley on his NRL squad.
Widely acknowledged for playing a significant role in the development of Penrith's current NRL squad after spending six years at the Panthers, Brennan says there is no reason why the Knights can't get back to the halcyon days of challenging for titles with predominantly home-grown talent.
"My whole focus is going to be on developing our own. I want to build from within," Brennan said.
"There will be a genuine pathway for our local kids to come through. They are not always going to make it and we are going to have to recruit from outside if we don't have that high-end player we need.
"The most important thing that I'll be driving though is that we look within first. As long as we look in our own backyard first, I think people will be more accepting of that."
Brennan says it will take time but his vision with the development programs he puts in place it to future-proof the club long term.
"Adam's obviously about winning premierships now but I'll be focused on making sure we are still winning them in five, 10 and 20 years time," he said. "A big one for me and one of my strengths is identifying players and knowing if and when they are going to be ready to take that next step up the ladder.
"It's about being patient and making sure they don't go up before they are ready and without the right fundamentals and grounding.
"I'm going to be very protective of that."
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