Albury Thunder has landed internally for its new coach.
Rugged utility Robbie Byatt will lead the Group 9 rugby league outfit next year.
"Robbie's coached before and he's got a wealth of experience at a number of clubs," president Rick O'Connell offered.
Robbie's coached before and he's got a wealth of experience at a number of clubs. He's been an exceptional player for us and has tremendous enthusiasm for the game.Rick O'Connell on new coach Robbie Byatt
"He's been an exceptional player for us and has tremendous enthusiasm for the game."
The 31-year-old replaces former NRL player Adrian Purtell, who was diagnosed with stage two Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma earlier this season.
Tough forward Jon Huggett will be Byatt's assistant.
Quite remarkably, Byatt debuted at first grade level at just 15 for Tumbarumba against Harden Murrumburrah, which no longer competes in the traditionally powerful Riverina-based competition.
He played around 100 games for his junior club, coaching the club in 2016-17.
A solidly built centre at 93kgs, who can also play in the halves or lock, Byatt has also spent time with the Shellaharbour Sharks on the NSW south coast and Queanbeyan Roos in the powerful ACT competition.
He spent two years with the Roos, snaring a premiership on debut in 2013.
Byatt joined the Thunder in 2018 and has posted one runner-up in the club's best and fairest, coincidentally to Huggett in 2019.
Meanwhile, O'Connell has confirmed he will stand down at next Friday's annual general meeting.
The club stalwart, who's regarded as the heart and soul of the club, joined the committee in 2004 and has been the president since 2006.
"I am stepping down, you need an influx of new enthusiasm and new ideas all the time," he suggested.
Like all sporting groups, the Thunder will be hoping for a 'normal' season in 2022.
The Border outfit didn't compete in the 2020 season due to COVID restrictions, while the last season was also interrupted.
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