Former Penrith Panthers playmaker Harry Siejka will captain-coach the Cessnock Goannas for the next two seasons following his appointment by the club on Thursday.
Siejka will take the reins from current coach Todd Edwards, who is standing down at the end of the year after having spent eight seasons in the top job at the club.
During that period, he took Cessnock to six grand finals, winning last year while he also made a grand final with Lakes United as coach in 2018.
Edwards said he believed Siejka was an outstanding candidate and would have real success with proper support from the sidelines.
"It's a difficult role as captain-coach in a quality competition like Newcastle, but I think Harry has what it takes if he gets the right support and people around him," Edwards said.
"I helped in Harry's selection and the club has assured me they will have the appropriate support around him for him to succeed in the captain-coach role."
A former Bathurst Panthers junior, Siejka was first signed by Penrith as a 14-year-old back in 2006 before linking with the club a couple of years later.
A halfback or five-eighth, he made his NRL debut for the Panthers at the back end of the 2011 season against the North Queensland Cowboys but finished up at the club the following year after playing four top-grade games.
He had stints at the Warriors and Dragons but didn't crack the NRL again before playing a couple of seasons in England with Wakefield, Featherstone and Bradford.
On returning in 2016, he has played NSW Cup and Queensland Cup with the Bulldogs and Burleigh Heads and is currently playing with the Mudgee Dragons in the Group 10 competition this season.
While he is coaching the Dragons Under 18s side this season, the Goannas will be his first senior coaching appointment.
Edwards, who currently has the Goannas sitting in third spot on the premiership ladder, is unsure what if any role he will have in football next year.
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