Benji Marshall has continued his staff rebuild at the Wests Tigers with the signing of former 200-plus game North Queensland Cowboys hooker Aaron Payne.

Payne will make the move to Sydney to take over the club's NSW Cup outfit at the Western Suburbs Magpies, a role that will work closely with Marshall's coaching staff.

Payne, who retired at the end of 2012 with 219 NRL games under his belt for the Cowboys as well as a single appearance for the NRL All Stars in 2012, is an ex-junior Origin player and has spent his post-playing days stationed in Townsville holding various roles for the Cowboys.

He has spent the last five years as head coach of QLD Cup outfit the Townsville Blackhawks, having taken over from Kristian Woolf. Enjoying some success, he also had a brief stint in 2020 as an NRL assistant coach, while prior to that he coached the Cowboys academy program and under-20s side.

A former two-time Paul Bowman Medalist, his departure from the Blackhawks follows yesterday's news that the South Sydney Rabbitohs had signed on with the Townsville-based club to become their NRL affiliate, ending the Cowboys' role with the club.

It now means Payne will coach the Western Suburbs Magpies for the next two years, and given the Tigers' desired position to build as a development club, his role in bringing players through to be first-grade ready will be critical.

“I think it's a really exciting time to be involved with such a great club,” Payne said in a club statement confirming the news.

"It's a young and vibrant coaching staff in charge of the NRL team, and I look forward to working closely with Benji and the team.

Wests Tigers pathways program is one of the biggest in the game and for me, that's also an enormously exciting challenge.”