Cowboys bombshell: Current NRL coach applied for job
A current NRL coach is at risk of being outed after secretly going behind the back of his club to potentially join the Cowboys.
From an original list of 20 applicants, eight coaches are being closely analysed by the North Queensland Cowboys board with a selection panel set to appoint the club's replacement to Paul Green within the next six weeks.
But in what could develop into a major story, News Corp has learned that one of the coaches to originally indicate their appeal in replacing Green is an NRL coach who is contracted with his current club next year.
Sources have confirmed the Cowboys were shocked to receive interest from the on-contract NRL coach.
The development has the potential to cause long-term implications - not for the Cowboys, but for the club of which the coach is contracted.
Wests Tigers chair Lee Hagipantelis was quick to smother whispers within the game over the past 48-hours that had Tigers coach Michael Maguire connected to the Cowboys.
Hagipantelis told News Corp on Tuesday that the club had been assured Maguire had no plans to walk out on the final year of his deal to pursue an opportunity elsewhere.
"Discussions have been held with Michael who has assured us he has no interest in entertaining discussion with any other club while he is contracted to the West Tigers, which is a very refreshing and commendable attitude," Hagipantelis said.
Following Green's exit last month, Wayne Bennett had also been linked to the Cowboys - after going close to joining the club in 2008.
The super coach has since ruled out applying for the Cowboys job.
News Corp understands while there are as many as eight lead candidates, five individuals are of most interest to the Cowboys.
They include interim Warriors coach Todd Payten, former Newcastle coach Nathan Brown, former Penrith and Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin, Storm assistant Jason Ryles and Cowboys interim coach Josh Hannay.
Payten remains the short-priced favourite to secure the Cowboys post after rejecting a formal offer to coach the Warriors full time, however both Brown and Griffin, with their NRL experience and a focus on the development of players, carry plenty of appeal.
Hannay has also impressed the club with his professionalism in taking over the reins from Green for the remainder of the season.
The interview process for the Cowboys role is expected to begin next week.