Former Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown has emerged as the new favourite for the Warriors coaching job, according to an Australian report.
It follows the shock revelation last night that interim Warriors coach Todd Payten turned down a fulltime role at the club.
In another twist in the coaching saga, Brown - who dropped out of the race last month - is now considered the favourite to coach the Warriors next season, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Brown, who was axed as Newcastle coach last August, withdrew his interest for the Warriors role but that was before Payten's rejection, the report suggests.
Brown is reportedly close friends with Warriors recruitment boss Peter O'Sullivan and now has the inside lane on the race for the coaching job.
The 46-year-old has also coached the Dragons, Knights and Super League clubs St Helens and Huddersfield, and was one of the first names mentioned after the sacking of Steve Kearney.
He also served briefly under Kearney in Auckland as a specialist coach.
In an emotional interview on NRL 360, Payten revealed that he rejected an offer to take over as head coach next season, but added he was still in contention to coach the Cowboys.
"I had been offered the job last Monday, so a week ago and I informed the club that I'm going to turn it down," Payten said.
"It just wasn't the right opportunity for myself and my family at this time being."
Payten said the decision was due to family reasons, but admitted there were other factors involved.
"Not many people know this, but my wife's father just started chemotherapy, so that was at the forefront of my mind.
"Obviously, there's the Covid thing. For her to travel back and forth is very difficult, so that was a big part of it.
"There were some other issues I don't want to make public, but that's my decision and I've made it."