Sorry end for coach who made Giants genuine contenders

With his famed apparel elegance, Nathan Brown has always exuded an air of unfamiliar class since his arrival here late in 2008.

After all, not many rugby league coaches dare watch their sides while attired in jeans, casual T-shirts and a sleek leather jacket.

For the most part, though, the confident Brown could back it up as he transformed a previously under-performing Huddersfield Giants side into a team genuinely able to take on the elite.

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Until recently, at least. Huddersfield parted company with the Australian yesterday less than 24 hours after they had lost their Challenge Cup semi-final 33-6 to Warrington Wolves.

That was an eighth defeat in nines games, a slump which saw them freefall from first to seventh in Super League and the club’s board voted unanimously that Brown, already due to take over at St Helens at the end of the season, should depart immediately.

Although it came as a shock, in hindsight the 38-year-old’s exit was perhaps unavoidable given Brown’s startling admission after the Warrington game.

Already looking resigned, he revealed the players had asked for a change in style and personnel which, against his better judgement, he had agreed.

Former St George Illawarra coach Brown, pictured, has always been refreshingly open and forthright with his views but this frank confession effectively made him a dead man walking. Knowing their best chance of silverware had gone, possibly he already knew the game was up.

Regardless, it would have been hard for him to continue in his role given what amounts to a clear undermining of his authority.

Giants managing director Richard Thewlis described it as a “sad” day for the West Yorkshire club who, undoubtedly, had high hopes he could at last deliver a first trophy in more than 50 years.

When asked by the Yorkshire Post if he was shocked by Brown’s post-match revelations, Thewlis said: “It was an interesting comment to make.

“We were aware of it. It was a decision that Nathan wanted to run with and it was thought at that time it was the best course of action in shaping to win the semi.

“Head coaches make hundreds of decisions and he said what he said but the last two months just haven’t been good enough.

“Clearly, all can see that we have not performed to a level that we are confident this squad is capable of.”

Assistant Paul Anderson, due to become head coach in November, took over yesterday and will start preparing the squad for Sunday’s visit of Wakefield Trinity.

Thewlis paid tribute to Brown who has – by the same players’ own admission – improved so many of them individually.

But when questioned whether it was a surprise Brown had not been able to take them to the highest level, he added: “It’s both a surprise and a disappointment.

“I think he will never be forgotten by the modern-day Huddersfield club and leaves a wonderful platform for Paul Anderson to express himself.

“He took us to Wembley (in 2009) and within 30 minutes of a Grand Final (in 2010) while we’ve been a top-four side every year he’s been here. Prior to his arrival, Huddersfield people could only dream of these things but Nathan made them a reality.”

Thewlis described Brown’s reaction to the news as “disappointed but philosophical” while the coach himself added: “I leave sorry that my time has ended earlier than probably anyone would have wished but I understand the club’s decision.

“I have had a great time at the club and will cherish some superb memories and have made some lifelong friends amongst the players, coaches, staff and supporters.

“In particular, my support staff led by Paul Anderson have been wonderful and I wish them every success going forward especially Paul who I hope will get the group to a strong finish to the season.”

St Helens, meanwhile, have yet to state whether they will now bring forward Brown’s start date with Keiron Cunningham and Mike Rush in temporary charge.