Former Newcastle premiership player Matthew Johns will return to the club as a part-time specialist coach, working with the Knights' halves, hookers and fullbacks.

Johns, who was raised in Cessnock, played his junior football in the Knights' system before progressing to first grade, where he won a title in 1997.

The 39-year-old fulfilled a similar role at Melbourne in 2007 and 2008 under Craig Bellamy, as the club enjoyed its most successful era.

Newcastle strategic development manager Keith Onslow said the club worked quickly to secure Johns' services once it became clear he was available.

"Matthew has always had a keen interest in coaching and development, especially in the Newcastle and Hunter Valley region," Onslow said.

"During a phone conversation with Matt last week we discussed what his commitments for the 2011 season were. When he suggested he might have some spare time on his hands we tossed around a couple of ideas before I said I’ll call you back in an hour.

"After conversations with club chairman Rob Tew and coach Rick Stone, the wheels were set in motion for Matt’s return to the club."

Onslow played a key role in recruiting Johns to the Knights' coaching staff, courtesy of a strong relationship that began when he first signed the youngster to the club in 1990.

Onslow said Johns would share his expertise across all levels of the Knights' program, from the first-grade squad to promising young players.

"Matt will work with Knights NRL players once a week along with some specialist development coaching with our Talent Identified Junior program, creating a wonderful learning environment for these youngsters to enjoy his vast knowledge and experience in rugby league," he said.