Nathan Brown is poised to sign a new open-ended contract as early as next week to continue as Newcastle Knights coach indefinitely with the deal set to be rubber-stamped by the Wests Group board on Thursday.
Wests Group boss and Knights CEO Phil Gardner confirmed a new deal was imminent with an official announcement expected “very soon”.
“Nathan’s comfortable - I’m comfortable. We’ll have his contract signed very soon,” Gardner told the Newcastle Herald.
“It’s been signed off on by the football committee. I’ve got a Wests board meeting on Thursday. They’ll agree to it there.
“I would have thought it could have been finalised by the end of the week but it may take a little longer.”
Gardner confirmed the contract will not have a finish date which is unique for a coach in the NRL but there will be certain performance triggers and an agreed payout figure that will prevent potential court action if there is a parting of the ways at any stage.
Gardner said the improvement the Knights had shown this season more than justified the club’s decision to extend Brown’s contract.
“We’ve always felt this year was the year to improve on last year which we have,” he said.
“We are a long way in front of this time last year and the fact Mitch [Pearce] is injured, Tautau [Moga] is injured, Herman [Ese’ese] is suspended – they are not coaching issues.
“That’s the luck of the draw and we think we will bounce back at the back end of the season when Mitch gets back. We are certainly in a much better position than last year which is the hurdle we set for Browny.”
Gardner said Brown should not be soley held accountable for the poor performance of his team in last Sunday’s 48-10 loss to the Sharks.
“You can’t hold the coach completely to blame,” he said.
“It was a disappointing result for everyone but no-one more than the coach.
“But this is about looking long-term here. If we can create a team on and off the field that is developing over time, we are building a club.
“It’s not about short-termism. We are not saying you have to be successful this time next year or the year after or you’re out.
“We are saying lets get together and build a club for the next five, 10 or 20 years.
“We want to put people in place and systems in place to have a tremendous dynasty. Like Melbourne and like the Broncos.
“It’s about building something for the community for the future. It’s not about winning next year or the year after. You do it right and the results will look after themselves.”
Gardner has no doubts Brown is the right man to lead the club forward.
“But if it doesn’t work or it’s not working, that’s when the triggers in the contract come in and the hard decisions have to be made,” he said.
“That’s the challenge for all of us and we all have to be held accountable. But you’ve got to give people a chance first rather than say: ’Here’s a three year contract and we haven’t had two top four finishes in that three years so you are out.’