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Knights boss denies players sacked coach

Newcastle chief executive Phil Gardner has denied the Knights playing group had anything to do with coach Nathan Brown leaving the club last week.

Brown resigned two weeks ago but was set to coach the final three games of the NRL season. But after Newcastle was destroyed by the Wests Tigers in the following game, Brown fell on his sword and walked early.

Gardner has been in damage control over the past week after Newcastle legend Andrew Johns accused Knights management of sabotaging the club's season.

Gardner offered Johns "any role" at the club but said his sabotage comments were not "accurate" before absolving the players any responsibility for Brown's downfall.

"The players had no role in Nathan Brown's departure. None at all," Gardner told NRL 360.

"To my knowledge the players were not canvassed in the lead up to Nathan's departure. Certainly after Nathan decided to go, we discussed what we were going to do with the playing group.

"The players actually knew before me that Nathan was going to resign.

"We felt the players would lift for him and run through that series because he had resigned and we would end up in a good position at the end of the year.

"Unfortunately that didn't happen."

Gardner insisted the club didn't go after Sydney Roosters assistant and newly-appointed Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien until Brown had resigned.

It is a position few people accept in NRL circles.

Newcastle bounced back with a 38-4 thrashing of the Gold Coast in their first game without Brown last week and face Penrith in the final game of the season on Sunday.

They cannot make the top eight.

© AAP 2019