NEW Chirnside Park coach Leigh Horsburgh knows what it's like to get knocked down by injury and get back up.
Now he hopes to lead his Panthers up off the canvas and into the next Eastern Football League division 3 season.
The 27-year-old was announced as the Panthers' coach last week, replacing Brett Davidson, who will coach Waverley Blues in division 2 next season.
After a distinguished playing career with Cranbourne, Stony Creek and Buln Buln, Horsburgh will come to the Panthers as a non-playing coach.
He suffered a serious knee injury this past season and has yet to get it repaired. "I'd like to be playing but I need a knee reconstruction, so I'm pretty much retired," he said. "I'm probably not going to get it fixed any time soon. It's too hard being a playing coach now; it's not the easiest thing to do."
Playing assistant coach Anthony Bernardo will join Horsburgh at the Panthers, having previously played with Noble Park juniors, Narre Warren, Springvale Districts and Buln Buln.
Horsburgh said, in his opinion,0 the Panthers had a solid list, one which looked good this season until hit by serious injuries.
He said he wanted to build up the side from within and put a strong, fit team on the park next season. "I reckon from what I've seen last year they started like a house on fire then had injuries," Horsburgh said.
"Those injuries were broken legs, hurt knees, etc - I think the core group is pretty good and I look forward to working with them. The under-19s only won one game, but if we can get the best out of the kids then hopefully we will get three or four of them playing senior footy."
Horsburgh also wants to build depth at the club and create competition for places. "With footy clubs, to reach your best you need the bottom five players in the side always under pressure from blokes in the twos," he said.
"That way you have to play good footy. So we need to create a bit of depth and we need 50 blokes, quality blokes, not just 22 players in the senior side."
Horsburgh is based in Cranbourne at present, but his partner's family is in Ringwood so he could be moving closer to his new club.
He said the Panthers as a club had all the tools for success. "The off-field side of things really attracted me," he said. "They have a good system in place; the club is set up well and has good people.
"My job is to create a successful side on the field."