Nationals MP Troy Grant appears set to become the new deputy premier of NSW after Andrew Stoner’s surprise decision to step down at the next election.

Troy Grant is set to become NSW Premier Mike Baird’s deputy as part of a fresh-faced coalition leadership team for the March election.

Mr Baird’s tumultuous time in charge continued with Andrew Stoner making the surprise decision to step down as Nationals leader for family reasons on Wednesday.

Mr Grant, a former police officer, is set to be elevated to the position of deputy premier when Nationals MPs meet on Thursday morning to elect a new leader.

Mr Grant’s elevation appeared to be sealed after colleague Adrian Piccoli, who was considered to be a genuine rival, said he wouldn’t be running.

“I will be supporting Troy Grant, member for Dubbo, who will make a great leader of the NSW Nationals,” Mr Piccoli said.

Mr Grant, who entered parliament in 2011, was elevated to Hospitality, Gaming and Racing Minister by Mr Baird in his April reshuffle.

He served in the police force for more than two decades before going into politics.

But Mr Stoner was not the only coalition MP announcing his departure on Wednesday, with beleaguered ex-energy minister Chris Hartcher saying he will quit politics at the upcoming election.

The upheaval continues a testing opening six months for Mr Baird as premier with the corruption watchdog cutting a swathe through his ranks.

While Mr Hartcher’s departure left a bad taste in the mouth for the government following allegations at the ICAC that he masterminded a plan to funnel banned donations, Mr Stoner’s was a different case.

“I have no job lined up, I’m not under any cloud,” he said.

“This is about putting my family first.”

Mr Stoner said his family had faced a tough time recently and that his job had prevented him from being there for them.

He said he made the decision to quit after his wife asked him to bring forward his retirement plans.

“This has coincided with some very difficult family issues that have been faced pretty much by my wife and three children back at home,” he said.

“I can no longer expect or ask my wife Cathy to face these issues alone.”

He said the issues were health related.

Mr Baird thanked Mr Stoner for his contribution.

Mr Stoner will hold onto his many portfolios – including trade, investment and tourism – until next March.