Cessnock will undergo their sixth coaching change in as many seasons in 2019 after current mentor Al Lantry opted not to continue in the role next year.
The 30-year-old told Goannas officials of his decision this week after recently agreeing to stay on beyond his maiden campaign as captain-coach.
Despite a mounting casualty ward, including his own season-ending shoulder injury, the Wallsend-based coal miner said he took “full responsibility” for the side sitting last on the competition ladder.
Lantry, who returned from overseas late last year, expressed his frustration at “not being able to lead from the front on the field”.
He thanked the club for their “support” but felt “relief” to make the call and focus on his own recovery.
The multiple grand finalist took over at the Coalfields outfit from Steve Kidd, who was at the helm in 2014 and 2017. Craig Miller (2015), now with Central, and Daniel Smailes (2016) did the Goannas job in between. Prior to that Lakes mentor Todd Edwards guided Cessnock for five of six years between 2008 and 2013.
Elsewhere in the Newcastle Rugby League coaching ranks for 2019 and Maitland are in talks with Luke Dorn while it’s a similar scenario for Miller at the Butcher Boys.
Matt Lantry expected to sit down with Wests in the coming weeks, Ben Cross has agreed to another term at Souths and Adam Bettridge is signed with Macquarie until the end of 2020. Edwards (Lakes) and Ron Griffiths (Kurri) are unconfirmed.