Newcastle Thunder have parted company with head coach Mick Mantelli with immediate effect.
Mantelli was appointed as the club’s new head coach ahead of the 2016 campaign and guided Thunder to the League 1 Shield in his first year in charge.
They were predicted to push on this year, but their defeat to York City Knights on Friday has left them twelfth in League 1 and two points adrift of eighth-placed Keighley Cougars.
The club has confirmed that assistant coach Jason Payne, a former club captain at Thunder, will step up as interim head coach and will be assisted by first team assistant coach and head of youth, Michael Heap.
Mantelli is the third League 1 coach to lose his job this month, following Gary Thornton and James Coyle, who departed Doncaster and Hunslet respectively.