NRL | Newcastle Knights head of football Darren Mooney denies being forced out after confirming his shock departure from the NRL club

Newcastle Knights head of football Darren Mooney insists the groundwork has been laid for the club to enjoy long-term success after confirming his sudden departure from the Knights to spend more time with his young family.

In a shock move that will be made official by the club today, coach Nathan Brown's right hand man says he is "worn out" and has been thinking about his future for quite some time.

"It has been a really tough three years working really long hours and it has taken a toll," Mooney told the Newcastle Herald yesterday. 

"I've got a young family and it has been an all-consuming job. You are starting early and working late and I just want to have the opportunity to spend more time with my family.

"I really want to think of them and put them first."

There was speculation over the weekend that Mooney had been forced out following a major staff review undertaken by the club. He insists that is not the case.

"I am leaving on really good terms and will still be helping out where I can," he said.

"I'm not leaving for any opportunities at any other clubs or anything like that. I'm not sure what I will do next to be honest but it might not even be in footy.

"Whatever happens, for the next few months, I just want to have some time off. 

"My contract runs out in October and I spoke to Phil [Knights CEO Gardner] late last week about it and we agreed to finish up now."

Darren Mooney

Darren Mooney

Mooney, who helped build Cronulla's 2016 premiership-winning roster, joined the Knights as general manager of the football department at the start of that season and has presided over the biggest roster over-haul in the club's history.

In unison with Brown, the pair began the arduous task of rebuilding the Knights' playing list from the ground up.

It proved to be a painful process.

The team won just one game in 2016 and collected a second straight wooden spoon before making it a hat-trick of spoons in 2017 after recording five wins.

But in bringing the club's salary cap position back under control, it opened the door for the high-priced signings of the likes of Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga prior to the start of the 2018 season, with Mooney in no doubt there are good times ahead. 

 "I'm really happy with where the club is at so I feel like I can walk away with the club in a far better position than it was when I started," he said.

"I 100 percent believe that and it is now set up for a really good opportunity for more growth and development moving forward.

"There have been some tough times but I've given it everything I had. I suppose I've never been used to losing that much and that wears you down after a while."

Asked if he is leaving at a difficult time given there are several roster positions still open for next season, Mooney said: 

"The club will be fine. I want the club to grow and prosper and I'm sure it will without me there overseeing things."

Mooney is convinced the blue-print for future success is in place.

"It's been a real team effort by everyone at the club but I am proud of the work Nathan and I have done in rebuilding the roster to the point now where it is set up for real success with a couple more key recruits," he said.

“The right strategies and blue-print is in place and the money is there to get the right people. We have set up a lot of good processes around our recruitment for the long term.

"Right from the early days, that is what we were all about. Building something that would sustain the club in the long term so a lot of what I was brought here to do is now in place."

Knights CEO Phil Gardner confirmed last night the club will issue a press release today regarding Mooney.

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