Cessnock have started the search for their fifth head coach in six years after parting ways with Steve Kidd by mutual agreement on Wednesday.
Kidd was one year into a two-season deal with the Goannas, who finished sixth in the Newcastle Rugby League with five wins from 16 games in an injury-marred 2017 season.
Goannas secretary David Cleaves said on Wednesday evening that Kidd had stood down. The Herald reported earlier in the day that the club and coach were in negotiations about a release.
Cleaves said Cessnock had now started the process of finding a new coach, which he conceded would be a difficult task given most clubs had made appointments and were signing players for next year.
“It’s not the ideal time of year to be doing this, but it’s happened,” Cleaves said.
Earlier, the Herald reported Kidd had written to the club on Wednesday morning to clarify his position amid rumours he could be sacked.
Kidd was believed to have expressed his view on back-room issues and his disappointment at a perceived lack of support from some members of the club’s committee.
Given the speculation over his future, Kidd was believed to have offered to negotiate a release from the final year of his contract.
After Cleaves confirmed an agreement had been made, Kidd told the Herald “I asked some questions and didn't get the answers I was looking for, so we agreed to part ways”.
The Herald was told earlier that former Goannas hooker Jamy Forbes, who is coaching the Terrigal Sharks this year, and ex-Cessnock president David Woodbury were among early candidates to replace Kidd next season.
Forbes was NSW Country player of the year in 1995 while playing for Cessnock and has gone on to carve out a successful coaching career.
Woodbury was a first-grade player at Cessnock and Cronulla in the 1980s who has consistently coached lower grades and junior teams at the Goannas in recent seasons.
Kidd coached Cessnock to a grand final in 2014 but moved on after one year in charge before returning to the position this season. He was an assistant at Central Newcastle and coached the Rebels under-18 team in between the stints at Cessnock.
The departure of Kidd continues an unstable coaching scene at Cessnock since the tenure of Todd Edwards.
Edwards, who has signed on to coach Lakes United next season, guided Cessnock for five years between 2008 and 2013, taking them to four losing grand finals. Since then, Kidd (2014), Craig Miller (2015), Daniel Smailes (2016) and Kidd again have taken on the job for one season only.
Cessnock were in contention for a top-five finals berth this season until losing 52-12 to South Newcastle in their third-last match. It was part of a five-game losing streak to finish the season.
For more Newcastle Rugby League news, see page 26.