Signing Johns Next Newcastle

Newcastle put premiership-winning coach Michael Hagan under lock and key today after successfully getting his signature on a new coaching contract.

The Knights will now shift their attention onto Johns, who has still to decide what he will do in 2005.

Hagan was keen to head off unnecessary speculation about his future and the 39-year-old said he hoped his decision would help steer Johns to stay.

"You'd like to think it's going to help the process," Hagan said.

"But he has a few things to weigh up."

The Knights have opened the lines of communication with Johns' manager John Fordham and plan to contact him again this week to set up a second round of talks.

However, Johns has made it clear he is in no rush to decide his future, which could involve a switch to rugby union, a rival NRL club or the English Super League.

"We'd like to retain Andrew, that goes without saying," chief executive Ken Conway said.

"He's negotiating and we will see what, if any part, Michael re-signing plays in that.