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Anderson, who played league for Australia and coached Canterbury and Melbourne to Australian rugby league premierships, has never had control of a rugby union side.
"Chris has signed a two-year contract and we are delighted to have such an experienced rugby professional at the club," Newport-Gwent chief executive Andy Marinos said.
"While rugby league has been his game, we feel he will bring the right kind of qualities to both challenge and improve our side.
"People have asked me about Chris' rugby union knowledge after a lifetime spent playing and coaching in the 13-a-side game, but he has studied the game over a long period of time."
Anderson follows other rugby league coaches Phil Larder, England's defensive coach, Joe Lydon, an assistant to the England team, and Shaun Edwards into rugby union.