Adam O'Brien is on track to become the Newcastle Knights second longest-serving coach after signing a contract extension that will tie him to the club until at least the end of 2024.
After just one year at the helm, the Knights have agreed to upgrade and extend O'Brien's current three year deal by a further two seasons, pushing his tenure out to five years when his new contract expires.
By the time 2024 rolls around, only premiership-winning coach Michael Hagan [six years from 2001-06] will have had a longer stint in charge.
Inaugural coach Allan McMahon, David Waite, 1997 premiership-winning coach Mal Reilly and the man O'Brien replaced, Nathan Brown, all served four-year terms.
O'Brien's contract upgrade and extension will be officially announced by the Knights today [Friday].
It is a huge show of faith in the former Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters assistant, who guided Newcastle to the play-offs last season in his rookie year as an NRL coach, breaking the club's seven-year finals drought in the process.
It also ends speculation linking O'Brien to a potential return to Melbourne on a long-term deal to take over as Storm coach from the retiring Craig Bellamy.
O'Brien is a Storm life-member and is highly regarded by the club after spending 11 seasons on the coaching staff in the southern capital under Bellamy before he linked with the Sydney Roosters in 2019.
Knights CEO Phil Gardner signaled the club's intention to extend O'Brien's contract late last year, telling the Newcastle Herald in early December he regarded O'Brien as a keeper and wanted his long-term future sorted before the start of this season.
"Adam's done an outstanding job since coming aboard and I hold him in the highest regard, as does everyone involved with our club," Gardner told Toohey's News at the time.
"We see him as our long-term coach and want him here for the long haul so certainly, we'll be sitting down with him to have discussions about his future and looking to extend his deal before next season kicks off."
Negotiations commenced after Christmas with the new deal, featuring an upgrade for 2022, rubber-stamped by the Wests Group board this week.
It offers security for both the club and O'Brien, who last year purchased a house in Merewether with his wife Sharyn.
It's understood the Knights initially discussed a one-year extension but decided on two years to marry up O'Brien's contract with star fullback Kalyn Ponga, who is also contracted until the end of 2024. The club is also on the verge of extending centre Bradman Best for the same period.
Meanwhile, the Knights will travel to Albury on a chartered flight out of Williamtown on Saturday morning for trials against Melbourne Storm.
The club will play the Storm in both senior grades with the squad to travel down and back on the same day.
O'Brien has named his strongest possible line-up with injured stars Ponga, Blake Green, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Edrick Lee and Hymel Hunt unavailable. Five-eighth Kurt Mann will also miss the trip due to a family commitment.
While the top 17 players are likely to play the bulk of the minutes, all 23 squad members are expected to get some game time at some stage with O'Brien and his coaching staff keen to see the likes of fringe performers such as exciting young back Simi Sasagi and new signings Brayden Musgrove and Englishman Dominic Young in action against elite company.
Former captain Mitchell Pearce has recovered well from thumb surgery and is a certain starter at halfback against the Storm.
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