Culina exit 'out of the blue'

Newly appointed Newcastle Jets caretaker coach Craig Deans and club captain Jobe Wheelhouse have said Branko Culina's exit came 'out of the blue'.

Newly appointed Newcastle Jets caretaker coach Craig Deans and club captain Jobe Wheelhouse have said Branko Culina's exit came 'out of the blue'.

The Hunter Sports Group stunned the football world on Tuesday with the announcement that they had terminated the contract of Culina just four days before the kick off of the 2011/12 Hyundai A-League season.

A press statement released by the club on Tuesday suggested the split revolved around the injury to marquee signing and Branko's son Jason Culina, who was ruled out for the entire season with a knee injury just two weeks ago.

Recent medical reports suggest that Jason may be sidelined for more than just the season and the club has applied to FFA to have Jason's contract ‘set aside' so they can chase another marquee signing.

The club has instilled its National Youth team coach Craig Deans as the Jets caretaker coach.

"It is out of the blue," Deans said of Branko's sacking at a media conference on Tuesday afternoon.

"It is out of my control what happens there and I am more worried about the boys keeping focus for Saturday."

"I found out at 12 o'clock today. I got called to the office today and the club asked me if I would step in the interim."

"I had meetings scheduled in regards to the youth team and they got put to the side."

Wheelhouse, who attended the official Hyundai A-league season launch in Sydney on Wednesday morning alongside Branko and fellow Jets player Tarek Elrich also said the coach's departure came as a surprise.

"We were down in Sydney this morning and had a coffee together," explained Wheelhouse.

"Me and Tarek were on the freeway coming back when we found out."

"I don't think too much will change. We have had a bit of a talk in the playing group and the priority is the weekend's game."

"We have been training for six months and that is what is on our mind."

Wheelhouse admitted that the ill-timed dismissal could be a distraction as the club prepares for its season-opening clash against the Melbourne Heart this Saturday.

"If you let it get to you it can be but we are all very strong-minded boys and six months worth of training will do that to you," he said.

"I have been here since day one and there had been a lot of adversity in the seven years. It is probably not ideal but we are strong boys so we will get through it."

"It is very disappointing to see him (Branko) go, but this is football and coaches and players leave the club from time to time. That is football."

Deans, who has only been a coach for three years after a knee injury curtailed his playing career, said his appointment was unexpected and he hadn't thought about applying for the role full-time.

"I wasn't expecting it all it is not something I have had a great deal of time to think about." Deans said.

"Hopefully after the session today I can go away and have a good clear think about it and all the other stuff. We have a game on Saturday and the weeks after that as well."