Adrian Purtell has unreal feeling to be back with Albury

HOMECOMING: Adrian Purtell is back at Greenfield Park as he prepares for his first season on the border since 2002 as Albury's captain-coach for the 2018 season. Picture: The Border Mail
HOMECOMING: Adrian Purtell is back at Greenfield Park as he prepares for his first season on the border since 2002 as Albury's captain-coach for the 2018 season. Picture: The Border Mail

Albury coach Adrian Purtell will resist the temptation to make wholesale changes next season.

Despite the club missing the finals in two of the past three seasons, the former NRL player said there was enormous scope for improvement at Greenfield Park.

Playmaker Shannon Rupapare will return from a shoulder injury while Curtly Jenkinson is back from a stint with Woden Valley Rams.

“The boys had a tough year with a couple of big injuries but in saying that they got to the end of the season and were in with a shot of making the finals,” Purtell said.

“There is obviously a good core group of players here already.

“There are some talented young guys coming through the under 16 and 18s who we can hopefully develop into consistent first graders.

“Like any team, it would be good to bring in two or three guys from the outside to add a little bit and be good influences.

“It’s only early days on that but Rick (O’Connell) and myself are talking to a couple of guys and hopefully we will have some news on that in the next few weeks.”

Purtell, 32, played his last first grade match in a final for Albury in 2002 before joining Canberra Raiders the following season.

He played 110 NRL matches and scored 45 tries for the Raiders and Penrith.

Purtell moved to England in 2012 to join the Bradford Bulls but was struck down by a heart attack in May that season.

He returned to the playing arena the following season and spent another five years with Bradford and London Broncos.

“It’s unreal to be back,” he said.

“It’s a weird feeling at the moment and still sinking in.

“I’ve always come back for a week or two but this time it’s for real.”

Purtell said he planned to sound out former Canberra Raiders teammates Terry Campese and Simon Woolford for coaching advice.

“I’m hoping to take a few bits from everyone,” he said.

“I’ll sound out Terry and Simon who have coached Queanbeyan Blues and ‘Campo’ got a premiership there this season.

“I’ll plan to put my own spin on things as well.”

The return home sets up a clash with former Raiders teammate Glen Buttriss, who will coach Cootamundra.

They are both looking forward to going head-to-head.

"We've been mates for a long time and I would have loved to have got him to Albury, but he said he couldn't play against his beloved Bulldogs and that's understandable," Purtell said.

"We're looking forward to playing each other next season. It's a game we have marked on the calendar."