Witt to the rescue at the Rats
NEW coach Harry Witt hopes to steer Southern Cross University back on track in the clubs 50th year in Far North Coast rugby union next season.
Witt, 31, has retired after a knee injury ended a six-year stint with Lennox Head this year.
He played first grade for over a decade and was among the best forwards in the competition.
"The timing just felt right. After my injury I wanted to stay involved in rugby, and give something back,” Witt said.
"My family actually encouraged me to approach the University about helping the club get back on it's feet and it allows me to stay in the game so hopefully it's a good move for all parties.
"I saw these guys play last year and I didn't think they were far off, they just needed a few more pieces to complete the puzzle.
"They'll be surprised at how much they'll improve if they commit to the task and it will be fun to help them get there.”
It will be the second time Witt has played at the Rats after a captain-coach stint in 2011 and 2012.
He is determined to succeed and believes not playing this time will bring out the best in his coaching ability.
"This will be different because I won't have to have my player's hat on at the same time, I can step back and most importantly not take too much on my own shoulders,” Witt said.
"We're putting together a support team of managers and specialist coaches and physios all with the goal of making it a professional environment but most importantly an enjoyable one.
"There is a special bond at this club and it's unlike any other, they're a very tight-knit circle of mates and I can't wait to see them winning games and having even more fun together than they already do.”
The Rats finished with the wooden spoon this season and looked destined to be heading to the President's Cup competition for clubs who only field one side in 2019.
However, some early interest from past players and an offseason recruitment drive means the club will field first grade, reserve grade and a women's side.
"There's a great vibe around the place. A lot of X-Rats (former players) are pulling the boots on again to play reserve grade together,” Witt said.
"Game days at the University are going to be an event and hopefully we get plenty more who want to be a part of it.”
"The University has has everything that any club could want in terms of facilities, so if we can bring in a few quality coaches and ex-players who specialise in certain parts of the game it will make it a place where players really learn a lot and that means they'll enjoy their rugby.”
Preseason starts January 29 with interested players encouraged to attend at Maurie Ryan Oval, Lismore.