Sunday 18 March 2018 / 03:22 AM


The Newcastle Knights have a problem – and that problem is their coach Nathan Brown and what to do with him.

We are halfway through his three-year deal and the Knights have just three wins and a draw from 39 matches in charge. The Knights will have two spoons from his two seasons, barring an unlikely rally over the remaining nine rounds.

Yet the club does not know whether to cut bait or continue to give Brown more time.

There is no doubt Brown entered into the Newcastle job knowing full well the enormity of the situation. The Knights had finished last in 2015. They had an old squad that needed turning over. There was salary cap issues, front office problems and financial issues.

A total rebuild was required and Brown was told he had time. Nobody called for his head last season when Newcastle hit rock bottom with just a single win and the sixth-longest losing streak of all time and the longest in over three decades. Most could see the size of the job.

Entering 2017, expectations were again low. Newcastle were the wooden spoon favourites. There was no hope of a finals run.

But there was an expectation that there would be some improvement from 2016. There was an expectation that a core of young players would have developed. There was an expectation that there would be improved levels of toughness. There was an expectation that recruitment would have been stronger.

On all fronts, Brown has failed. The Knights have jumped a win but look no better than they did last season. There have been very few young players who have been given time who look like really good top graders, with the exception of Nathan Ross, Danny Levi and the Saifiti brothers. Toughness, particularly defensive metal, just isn’t there. Recruitment has been a disaster with the Knights having to pay huge overs and even that not luring anyone of real note other than young Kalyn Ponga.

After being embarrassed by a severely understrength Tigers team at home on Sunday, questions are rightly being asked of Brown. The defeat showed Brown had ripped the Knights down but had done nothing of standing to build them back up.

The Knights won’t make this call but they should. Nathan Brown should not be in charge of the 2018 campaign. A coach with a history of player development, one with a reputation as a players coach and one with a hard edge is what is required.

The club can’t afford to waste any more time and they can’t afford to get themselves into any more salary cap situations that will require another knockdown. And that is the direction they are headed in under Brown.

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About the author

Nick Tedeschi

You will not find a more passionate rugby league man than Nick, whose Making The Nut column has garnered a huge cult following over the last decade. The Sydney-based raconteur co-authored The Book of NRL Lists with CBS stablemate WILL EVANS in 2014 and has penned several other books; he joined the CBS team with his weekly Six Up The Middle feature in 2016.

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