The Cooler takes on 'Pies
FOR former Cronulla Sharks wing and sharp-shooter Luke Covell, a chance to return to bush footy has given him a new lease of life.
Covell has returned to his home town of Murwillumbah after 10 years in the NRL. And tomorrow the man dubbed “The Cooler” will line up in the back-row against the Lower Clarence Magpies at the Maclean Showground.
“I'm absolutely loving it, being back home,” Covell told the Examiner during the week.
“It's good to be back around my mates and my kids have a nice environment to grow up in.”
Covell, who played a Test match for New Zealand against Australia in 2007, said he was also enjoying the move from wing to second-row.
“I'm really enjoying the move,” he said.
“I'm starting to get used to the position, making more tackles and generally being more involved in the game.”
Thinking he'd never return to the game after a serious knee injury suffered against Parramatta in Round 4 last season, Covell took a punt and went under the knife in a bid to return to the paddock.
You could say he was a human guinea pig after undergoing a revolutionary procedure to repair ligament damage to his knee. Covell was the first NRL player to undergo a Ligament Augmentation Reconstructive System (LARS) operation after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament.
For most athletes it's a long road back to the playing field, usually up to 12 months, but the Mustangs forward was back running in 10 weeks.
“The knee has held up really well. I had retired from the NRL so it was a nothing to lose situation,” he said.
“I thought, why not give it a crack.”
Covell scored close to 1000 points during his career with the Sharks and is regarded as one of the best goal-kickers to ever grace the field.
Early on in the season he landed nine conversions against the Mullumbimby Giants and still lends a hand teaching young kids the art of kicking goals.
“I've done a bit of work with the Titans under-20 side and been helping a few of the young guys around here,” he said.
Murwillumbah currently sits top of the NRRRL which, according to Covell, has a lot to do with its massive forward pack.
“We definitely have a big, mobile pack of forwards,” he said. “We have plenty of experience up front with the likes of Lionel Foster and Linden Murphy, who is a former Broncos junior.”
With the Magpies front-row back to full strength, the battle up front should rock the Maclean Showground.
Xavier Sullivan, Ryan Binge and hooker Tom Martin form arguably one of the best front-rows in the NRRRL.
But back to Covell's nickname, “The Cooler”.
“You'll have to ask Gus Gould about that one.”
“I have no idea why he named me that,” laughs Covell.