The New Zealand Warriors have confirmed the signing of Nathan Brown as the club's new head coach - and NRL great Phil Gould as a club-wide consultant.
After being knocked back by interim head coach Todd Payten earlier in the week, the Auckland club will hand the reins to Brown, who has signed a three-year deal, and will take over at the end of the 2020 NRL campaign, with his fulltime role starting on November 1.
The 47-year-old has coached the St George Illawarra Dragons, Newcastle Knights and Super League clubs St Helens and Huddersfield, and was one of the first names mentioned as an option for the fulltime Warriors gig after the sacking of Stephen Kearney.
Brown joined the Warriors earlier in the year in a consulting role before being cut in the Covid-19 crisis, and initially withdrew himself from consideration for the role, before later changing his mind and winning the gig after Payten chose to turn it down.
"We couldn't be more delighted to have Nathan as our new head coach," said Warriors CEO Cameron George.
"He has had an extensive involvement in the game as both a first-grade player and then as a coach in the NRL and the Super League.
"He already has a relationship with our players, football staff and our club after being with us as a coaching consultant working with our hookers this season.
"Nathan's a terrific person who brings tremendous qualities to the role in every sense."
Brown said the Warriors' job was a "fantastic opportunity", and explained his change of heart.
"I had one or two concerns and I've had private conversations with (the club) since and am now very comfortable.
"I'm a career coach. I just love coaching. I spent time in Auckland during the preseason and was really impressed with the whole set-up, the players and the staff throughout the organisation.
"The Warriors are hugely important to the competition. We've seen that this year with the sacrifices they've made to keep the NRL going.
"Under some very difficult circumstances, the club has shown they've got some players to take them forward. It's not about instant success. It's about building something that's sustainable.
"I can't wait to get stuck in."
NRL commentator and former coach Gould will join in a consultancy role, with George saying he will provide advice and guidance in key strategic areas designed to build the Warriors' trans-Tasman commercial and general profile. Gould will also work with the club on commercial and football opportunities as well as reviewing structures and pathways in the game with a view to bringing long-term benefits for the Warriors and for the game generally in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
"This appointment is exceptionally significant and critical to the future of our business as a whole and equally to the game in general both in New Zealand and in Australia," George said.
"He'll play a huge role in helping to take us to a new level as a club."
Brown has coached in 438 games across the NRL and Super League in almost two decades of coaching, with a 50 per cent winning record.
He was in the spotlight immediately when his coaching career began as at 29 he became the youngest non-playing coach in NRL history when he took over at the Dragons.
In his time with the Dragons, Brown found plenty of success as he led the side to the playoffs in four of his six seasons in charge. Following his stint with the Dragons, Brown went to Huddersfield in the Super League, where he coached for four seasons, before moving to St Helens for another three. His teams made the playoffs in the Super League all seven seasons.
He returned to the NRL in 2016 at the helm of the Knights. He spent three years with the club, finishing bottom of the ladder twice and 11th once. During the 2019 season it was revealed he would not be the team's coach in 2020, and although he was expected to see out the 2019 season with the club, Brown left his post during the campaign.
Gould, meanwhile, calls his role an "exciting challenge".
"The owners Mark (Robinson) and Rob (Croot) and Cameron have a real passion for rugby league and they're highly motivated to build the Warriors into a powerful club over the coming years.
"A strong Warriors club is a great asset to the NRL, not to mention its importance to the continued development of international rugby league, which I know is a priority for Peter V'Landys and the ARL Commission."
Gould has a long history in the game as a player, coach, general manager and broadcaster and has recently been in discussions with Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys about undertaking some projects to help the game grow in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands in a development role with the NRL.