Nathan Brown to oppose the man he embarrassed

FIVE years on from his infamous face slapping incident as a rookie coach with the Dragons, Nathan Brown will oppose the man he embarrassed in his comeback to the NRL with Newcastle next year.

Brown's bizarre backhander to the cheek of a shocked Trent Barrett, which still haunts him as his greatest rugby league regret, will be revisited next year when the Knights clash with Manly, the club where Barrett will launch his own NRL coaching career.

Newcastle turned to Brown ahead of former Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin and local favourite Garth Brennan to rescue the club, which slumped to the wooden spoon for the third time in its history this season under sacked coach Rick Stone.

The former Dragons hooker comes to the steel city having already coached 142 NRL games with St George Illawarra and another 121 with English Super League clubs Huddersfield and St Helens. Brown took St Helens to the Super League title last year, before returning to Australia where he has been an assistant coach to Melbourne mentor Craig Bellamy.

It's understood Brown, who had been linked with the Manly coaching job, had been interested in taking over at the Storm until Craig Bellamy decided to extended his tenure at the club.

"After six years in England and gaining the experience to come back to get a job in the NRL, I am really excited about the opportunity to coach such a great club," Brown said after officially being unveiled at the Knights.