Newcastle Knights' assistant coach Rick Stone has been appointed to succeed Wayne Bennett as the NRL club's head coach for the next two years.
Stone would take over the role he surrendered to Bennett at the end of 2011, following Bennett's decision to rejoin the Brisbane Broncos next season.
"We are pleased to announce Rick Stone will be our new head coach commencing in season 2015," Newcastle chief executive Matt Gidley said in a statement.
"Rick has a thorough knowledge of our club and the community, which are qualities we felt important in the head coach position."
Stone joined the Knights in 2006 an assistant to Michael Hagan, then assumed the top job in 2009 before being relegated to an assistant when Bennett arrived from St George Illawarra for the 2012 season.
"It's great to get another chance to coach the Knights because it's not often you get a second opportunity to coach at the same club," Stone said.
"I have learnt a lot over the last three years and know it puts me in a good position to take the Knights forward."
Newcastle have endured a tumultuous season including the jailing of Warriors recruit Russell Packer on an assault charge and Alex McKinnon's career-ending neck injury.
Fullback Darius Boyd was also out of action as he battled depression.
Businessman Nathan Tinker, who was responsible for bringing Bennett to the club, also cut ties with the club which lies in 14th place and out of contention for the finals series with four games of the regular season remaining.
The Knights host the sixth-placed Warriors at Hunter Stadium on Sunday, buoyed by a last-gasp 32-30 win over the Melbourne Storm on Saturday night. The Warriors beat the Cronulla Sharks 16-12 in Auckland yesterday.
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