Newcastle Knights have confirmed Nathan Brown will leave his role as head coach at the end of the NRL season.
Brown took over at the Knights in 2016 but his first two seasons resulted in wooden-spoon finishes, while they placed 11th last term.
The Knights were expected to challenge for a finals spot this season with a decent-looking roster that includes David Klemmer, Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga, yet a run of seven defeats in nine games put a dent in their chances.
The timing of the decision is somewhat surprising given the Knights remain just two points outside the top eight and hammered the North Queensland Cowboys 42-6 on Saturday.
Brown, though, says now is the right time to head in a new direction.
“My main job was to come here and put the club back together,” said Brown, who signed a performance-based contract last year.
“It’s been a tough but enjoyable job. I’ve met lots of great people and I feel the club is far better off for me coming here.
“The roster and salary cap issues have been resolved and there’s the potential of a team to have sustained success.
“A lot of the heavy lifting has been done and now I’m leaving it to the next group of club leaders to continue the job.
“But it’s important to remember the year is not over and I look forward to finishing the season off strongly and push for a final birth.”