AAP Rugby

Walters rules himself out of Knights job

By AAP Newswire

Kevin Walters has ruled himself out of the running but there are no shortage of contenders to replace Nathan Brown as Newcastle coach at the end of the NRL season.

Despite reassurances in recent weeks from the Knights hierarchy that Brown would lead the side in 2020, it was announced on Tuesday he would exit the club.

Brown and Newcastle officials met on Monday night and came to a "mutual agreement" to part ways at season's end despite the Knights remaining in the finals mix.

The 10th-placed Knights are one win outside the eight with three regular season rounds left.

Queensland coach Walters was expected to top the Knights' list of contenders to replace Brown along with Sydney Roosters assistants Craig Fitzgibbon and Adam O'Brien.

But Walters said he was not interested.

"I am very comfortable with my position at the moment with the Queensland Rugby League and my work on Fox League," he told Fox Sports.

"I have said that over and over and over again in the last 12-18 months.

"But firstly I feel for Nathan Brown, it is a tough industry coaching."

Former Penrith coach Anthony Griffin, ex-Canberra mentor David Furner, Melbourne assistant Jason Ryles and former Manly coach Trent Barrett may also be options to take over next year.

Brown and Knights CEO Philip Gardner will hold a press conference on Wednesday morning.

But Gardner was glowing in his praise of Brown in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon.

"Nathan will go down as one of the most-important coaches in Knights' history," he said.

"When he joined our club ahead of the 2016 season, it was at its lowest ebb.

"The sheer size and scale of the task he was faced with was monumental. It would have broken a lesser man.

"Put simply, it would be wrong to measure his contribution to the Knights in wins and losses alone.

"Nathan shaped our roster as he did our club. He once again made Newcastle a place that players wanted to not just play in, but play for."

Brown said he was proud of his accomplishments after transforming the club from cellar dwellers to finals contenders.

"My main job was to come here and put the club back together," Brown said.

"It's been a tough but enjoyable job. I feel the club is far better off for me coming here."

Brown last year signed an open-ended, performance-based contract with the club after lifting them off the bottom of the ladder, following three-straight wooden-spoon seasons, and into 11th place.

And the Knights, led by Kalyn Ponga, Mitchell Pearce and David Klemmer, looked like premiership contenders when they moved into the top four after a round-11 win over the Sydney Roosters.

But a recent six-game losing streak brought them back to earth and appears to be the impetus behind Brown's exit.

Brown has already been linked to a return to English Super League club St Helens, which he helped steer to the 2014 title.

Saints coach Justin Holbrook leaves next year to take over the Gold Coast Titans.