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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Josh Callinan

Kurri Kurri's coaching change on eve of Newcastle RL season

The Bulldogs won just twice during 18 rounds in 2022. Picture by Marina Neil

LESS than two months out from the start of the Newcastle Rugby League season and wooden spooners Kurri Kurri are facing a coaching change.

Bulldogs mentor Aaron Watts will no longer continue at the helm.

No official replacement has been revealed by the club.

Danny Linnane, a member of Kurri's last premierships between 1993 and 1995, shapes as a potential candidate having been appointed as reserve-grade coach before Christmas.

Mitch Cullen, who notched up his 150th first-grade game for the Bulldogs last year but remains sidelined following knee surgery, was set to undertake the under-19 job.

Dave Hodgson and Tom McKenzie were poised to be Watts' assistants in 2023.

The club made an announcement on Monday.

"The Kurri Kurri Rugby League Football Club would like to inform the decision of Aaron Watts resigning as first-grade coach for season 2023," Kurri officials said via a brief statement.

"We wish Aaron all the very best for the future."

Watts re-committed to the Bulldogs in June, extending his contract for another season despite a poor campaign.

Kurri eventually finished last on the Newcastle RL ladder and posted just two wins from 18 appearances.

The former Scone player first started at the club in 2022, having steered the Newcastle Rebels representative squad in 2021.

Watts begun coaching the Manly Sea Eagles' under-16 side over the summer with the statewide Harold Matthews Cup kicking off last weekend.

Kurri commenced pre-season training in late November and are scheduled to host upcoming trials against Macquarie (February 25), Souths (March 4) and Lakes (March 11).

The Bulldogs open the season against reigning champions Maitland at Kurri Sportsground on March 25 before welcoming Wyong on April 1.

Bradford Bulls player Sam Hallas signed for the club in October and joins fellow new recruits Josh Justin Tameimounga Suli, Tyrall Waitapu, Fiso Vaisagote, Blake Johnston, Tyler Prince-Campbell, Toa Edwards and Ben McIntyre.

Linnane's son Brodie debuted for the Bulldogs in July.

To see more stories and read today's paper download the Newcastle Herald news app here.

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