A former scrum half for Leigh Centurions, Purtill was forced to retire from playing due to injury and moved into coaching. He joined Huddersfield Giants as an assistant coach in 2005. At Huddersfield, he worked under head coach Jon Sharp, who rated him as one of the best young coaches in the game. Following Sharp's departure from the club in 2008, Purtill had a brief spell as caretaker coach alongside Paul Anderson. He then moved to St Helens to work under Michael Potter.