Knights coach Nathan Brown.

In the days leading up to Nathan Brown's sudden exit from the Knights, the Newcastle coach believed the club had already begun sounding out potential replacements. Contingency plans. Due diligence.

Call it what you like, but something didn't smell right to the coach.

So Brown, being the open and honest person he is, confronted the club about what he was starting to hear.

Monday night's meeting between Brown and Knights chief executive Philip Gardner wasn't scheduled in the calendar. Brown wanted to know where he stood, and if he would still be standing at all at the end of the year.

The Knights deny they had spoken to any other coaches.

A club spokesperson told NRL.com that the Knights hadn't sounded out other coaches.

But like all coaches under pressure, it's hard to escape the paranoia once it settles in.

By the end of the meeting both Brown and Gardner had agreed that it would be best for all parties to cut ties at the end of this season. Grand final or bust, this will be Brown's final year in charge of the club he's helped rebuild.

At the mid-way point of the year, on the back of his team's six-game winning streak, Brown's performance-based contract looked destined to have another year added to it.

But with every loss, pressure began to mount. To the point where the club begun to consider its options. It's understood Brown has met all key performance indicators in his contract, but it wasn't enough to save him.

The club began to become concerned around how Brown handled Jesse Ramien, questioning if more could have been done to better deal with the situation that had arisen.

Brown himself recently alluded to mishandling a situation, without referring to the particular issue that he wished he'd treated differently.

There was also the concern around Kalyn Ponga's future, and whether he would re-commit to the club if they weren't successful.

The news of Brown's exit at the end of the year came as a complete shock to the players. None of them were aware when the story broke on Tuesday afternoon.

By the time the story had surfaced, the players had finished their training duties for the day.

It's expected Brown will meet with the group to officially tell them on Wednesday morning, before fronting the media later that morning alongside Gardiner.

The decision by the club to part ways just three weeks out from the finals, with their top eight hopes still alive, is somewhat unorthodox.

However it's understood both parties believed it was in their best interests to reach a position now to ensure Brown managed to land a job in 2020 and the Knights had adequate time to find the best candidate.

Brown now finds himself at a crossroad, looking to continue his career.

That won't be in St Helens, despite the club he once led to Super League glory on the lookout for a new coach to replace the Gold Coast-bound Justin Holbrook.

St Helens are understood to have identified their target, potentially Knights assistant and Tonga coach Kristian Woolf, and will announce it after this weekend's Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

As for the Knights, they can still play finals football. But in the meantime, the coaches will begin lining up out the door to take control of one of the most talented young rosters in the competition.

Just don't expect that to be Shane Flanagan. The NRL has already put a line through his name for 2020 as he continues to serve a suspension for communicating with Cronulla officials during a prior ban.

The Knights won't take long to sort out its future. They want this wrapped up in the next few weeks, providing the next coach with enough time to prepare for 2020.