Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor has been sacked by the NRL club, with assistant Andrew Webster named interim coach.
Club chairwoman Marina Go confirmed the axing in a statement on Monday.
"On behalf of everyone at Wests Tigers I’d like to thank Jason for his commitment and contribution to the Club during his time as Head Coach," Go said.
"Jason has overseen significant change within the Club over the past two seasons and we thank him for his efforts.
A forlorn-looking Taylor following loss to Raiders. Pic: Getty
"Our position has always been to make sure that the Head Coach’s contract is tied to performance and that hasn’t changed.
"We are committed to building a side that will be in a position to win NRL Premierships and believe that this decision is the correct one for the future of the Club."
Taylor was due to come off contract at the end of the season,but his sudden exit comes after the Wests Tigers banked a win then two heavy defeats from the first three games of the season, including a 46-6 hammering by Canberra on Sunday.
Taylor gets involved at Tigers training. Pic: Getty
The club was being pushed for an early call on his job with their "big four" players - skipper Aaron Woods, fullback James Tedesco and halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks - also coming off contract and seeking certainty about the club's coaching position before re-committing.
They are reportedly keen to play under North Queensland assistant coach Todd Payten, who mentored them during his time as the Tigers' under 20s coach.
Payten and former Penrith and Warriors coach Ivan Cleary shape as the leading contenders to take over as head coach.
Interim coach Webster returned to Wests Tigers this year after spending two seasons as an assistant coach at the Warriors.
Taylor's controversial reign included the damaging public stoush with ex-captain Robbie Farah, who was forced out of the club after last season and still receives the bulk of his large salary from West Tigers despite now playing for South Sydney.
Wests Tigers won 20 and lost 31 matches since Taylor took over at the start of the 2015 season and he has a career 43 per cent win record which includes previous stints at Parramatta and South Sydney.
Earliest coach sacking according to @Middleton_David - Craig Coleman (Souths) after a trial & Bill Gardner (Crushers) before club's 1st game— Brad Walter (@BradWalterSport) March 20, 2017
T.Payten, I.Cleary - run away from the Tigers' job as fast as you can. The board doesn't know who they are or what they want. #GroundhogDay— Warren Smith (@WarrenSmithFOX) March 20, 2017
The Tigers went desperately close to making the finals last season, when ninth.
But the joint venture has not played finals since 2011 and, with the club desperate to get back to the finals, it would appear the flogging at the hands of the Raiders was the last straw for Taylor.
Tigers legend Paul Sironen took the opportunity to take a shot at the departing coach.