IT was one of the saddest stories to begin 2022 with when it was announced that Frank ‘The Tank’ Pritchard had been placed in an induced coma following complications with the Covid-19 virus.
Pritchard, who made a name for himself in the NRL and Super League with his barnstorming runs and heavy hits in defence, was nursed back to health over a steady period of time before being appointed to the Samoa coaching staff for the Rugby League World Cup.
The 39-year-old documented his recovery via social media with Pritchard being given considerable support throughout the whole period.
Of course, the World Cup went as well as could have been expected with the Pacific Island nation making it all the way to the tournament final after overcoming England in the semi-finals.
Now, Pritchard will be coaching the St George Dragons’ Harold Matthews side – that is players that are under the age of 16 for the prestigious Sydney club.
The Harold Matthews Cup has been running since 1970 so it is a prestigious coaching opportunity for the 39-year-old.
During his playing career, Pritchard won 27 Kiwis caps between 2005 and 2013 and later played eight times for Samoa.
In club rugby league, the blockbusting forward began his career with the Penrith Panthers, registering almost 100 appearances for the Blue Mountain side before leaving for the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2011.
At Belmore, Pritchard made another 104 appearances until a move to Hull FC in Super League beckoned. He spent just a year at the MKM Stadium, but played 26 times during that period and helped the Black and Whites lift the Challenge Cup.
Moving home, Pritchard signed for the Parramatta Eels but played just eight times before retiring at the end of the 2017 season.