Wayne Bennett will join Newcastle as head coach from next season, the club have announced.
Bennett, 61, will link up with the Knights at the end of their present campaign and take charge for the following four seasons.
The Tinkler Sports Group Executive Chairman Ken Edwards said the news was a massive win for the community and the Knights Rugby League club.
“We are building something really special for the entire community and are thrilled to know that Wayne Bennett will be part of it,” Edwards said.
“Wayne’s appointment confirms exactly what Nathan has been saying, that the Hunter region has developed dramatically and now the best do not have to go to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to prosper, they can now stay or join us in the Hunter.
“This is a major step for the region as we continue to build community pride and above all, further expand the club’s existing policy to provide a pathway for all juniors to have the opportunity to play for the Knights.
“What excites everyone at the club is Wayne’s commitment to work closely with the Newcastle Rugby League, to ensure that a professional structure is in place for young player development and a full programme for local coaches.
“This is a genuine revolution for everyone involved in rugby league from Newcastle up to the Queensland border,” Edwards concluded.
Current coach Rick Stone will discuss his role under Bennett, when the two meet later this year.