Lower Clarence Magpies have appointed Nathan Pettit as the club's coach for the 2014 NRRRL season.
Lower Clarence Magpies have appointed Nathan Pettit as the club's coach for the 2014 NRRRL season. Debrah Novak

Pettit steps into challenging role at the Magpies

A HORRIFIC knee injury not only ended Nathan Pettit's playing career in 2011 - it almost cost him his leg.

The newly appointed Lower Clarence Magpies coach was captain of the Moorebank Rams in the Sydney Combined Competition when he was injured, and spent the next two weeks in hospital.

"Surgeons actually talked about cutting the whole leg off," Pettit said.

"My knee was smashed to smithereens."

Luckily for Pettit his leg was saved but his playing career was obviously over.

"I'm definitely not playing again. I'd still have a few years left mentally but I can barely run as it is," he said.

With his playing days over the former five-eighth/halfback switched to coaching, steering the Rams to sixth against strong opposition.

Pettit has now accepted the challenge of leading the Magpies out of a four-year stay in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League doldrums.

Their wins since the 2009 grand final triumph still number in single digits but Pettit is ready for the challenge ahead.

The 35-year-old will arrive in town in the next month, and said he was keen to hit the ground running.

"I know they've lost a front-rower (Ryan Binge) but apart from that I can't help too much on that side of things," Pettit said.

"I've been down here for a few solid years and the Magpies' job is a good opportunity to try something new.

"I was born and bred in Cootamundra so I'm used to living in the country. I lived in Sydney for 10 years but still travelled back and forth to play in the Group 9 competition for a few years."

10 teams in 2014 NRRRL competition

The Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League will be contested by 10 clubs in all three grades in 2014.

The confirmation came at Monday night's annual general meeting, where an overseas trip for the representative team was also confirmed.

Lower Clarence Magpies will be the sole Clarence Valley-based team in the NRRRL following the move of Grafton Ghosts and South Grafton Rebels to Group 2.

The NRRRL competition kicks off on the first weekend of April.

"All clubs have nominated under-18s, reserve grade and first grade, which is pleasing," NRRRL president Brian Rix said.

"The Fiji government are keen to get us over there and we'll build towards that trip at the end of the year.

"We've also renewed our sponsorship with NovaSkill for three years with an option of another two at the end."

Rebels sign-on day this Saturday

SOUTH Grafton Rebels are progressing with plans for the 2014 season with a player sign-on day planned for Saturday.

Kicking off at McKittrick Park from 1.30pm, the Rebels are hoping to attract new players to the club as they tackle their first season in Group 2.

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