Knights powerless to hold onto Smith - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights powerless to hold onto Smith

By Steve Jancetic 20/07/2009 12:28:38 AM Comments (0)

Newcastle chief executive Steve Burraston says the Knights were in no position to offer departing coach Brian Smith the financial and job security which ultimately led to the veteran mentor being enticed to the Sydney Roosters next season.

Smith is believed to have agreed to a four-year deal with the Roosters starting in 2010, meaning he will walk out on the final year of his contract with the Knights to return to Sydney.

There had been clauses in Smith's deal with the Knights, with triggers for the contract to be extended for the 2011 and 2012 season provided he achieved a top-four finish.

But the security of a long-term deal was not something the Knights could afford, according to Burraston.

"We couldn't offer Brian as long a tenure as the Rosters had and probably not matched the offer, although I'm not privy to what his contract would be," Burraston said.

"He had some personal reasons that he wanted to move back to Sydney, family reasons ... it was mutually agreed.

"Brian's done a great job for us - he's certainly made some hard decisions and got us a good playing roster and a team that is highly competitive.

"He's done the job and probably set it up for someone to come in and take over a pretty comfortable roster."

Central to that roster is skipper Kurt Gidley, who admitted to being shocked at the coaching development.

But Gidley said the upheaval was no reason for the club to lose focus this season as they looked turn their fifth position on the ladder into finals success.

"I don't think it should effect us at all - I'd be disappointed if it did effect any of the players because we've put so much hard work into the last three years when Smithy first came," Gidley told ABC radio.

"It's started to pay off this year and we've had the best start to a season this year we've had in a long time.

"... I wish him well - it's a good deal, it's four years and he was only signed with Newcastle till next year and he wasn't sure what his future was after that."

Smith declined to comment on the situation, other than to voice his disappointment that the news had got out before he had spoken to his players.

"I won't be speaking to anybody until I speak to my players and staff - that was my part of the deal in all of this but some others have decided to do it differently," Smith said.

Burraston said the club would not rush into appointing a new coach, though there appears to be strong support for assistant coach Rick Stone, who has been with the club under both Smith and predecessor Michael Hagan.

Others in the mix are believed to be Melbourne assistants Stephen Kearney and Michael Maguire, both of whom had been previously linked to the Roosters job.

Smith's release from the final year of his contract will be rubber-stamped at a Knights board meeting on Monday night.

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