Shellharbour City Sharks launch assault on 2016
Mick Satin - The Advertiser Lake Times
SHELLHARBOUR City Sharks’ preparations for the 2016 South Coast Group 7 Rugby League season are officially under way, with last year’s Club Champions holding their first pre-season training session of the year last week.
The year 2016 signals the beginning of a new era for the maroon-and-gold side, with the appointment of former reserve grade coach Abed Atallah as the club’s new first grade mentor.
Atallah, originally from Harden in the state’s Riverina region, moved to Shellharbour and signed with the Sharks in 2010 as a player, before taking over as reserve grade coach midway through the 2012 season on the advice of then first grade coach, Ryan Powell.
“The reserves coach at the time left unexpectedly and Ryan (Powell) thought I should take it on so I did,” Atallah said.
“Coaching had always appealed to me so I owe ‘Powelly’ a lot in that respect, and he is someone who I hold in very high regard and someone I still turn to for advice.”
The 29-year-old stayed with the Sharks for a further two seasons as reserve grade boss, qualifying for the major semi-finals in 2013 and 2014.
He then moved to Wests in the Illawarra Coal League last year to work under veteran coach Peter McLeod and former Australian Test representative Jason Ryles.
“Working with both Peter and Jason was a great experience,” Atallah said.
“I thought I knew a fair bit about footy, but after a few sessions with these boys I realised I had a lot to learn.”
Joining Atallah is the experienced local strength and conditioning coach, Stephen Staff, along with assistant coach and defensive specialist, Jay Efairamo.
“I’m very lucky to have two experienced guys like Jay and ‘Staffy’ on the coaching team with me,” Atallah said.
“They know what they’re doing and they have the respect of everyone at the club from the committee down to the players.
“Ultimately I know I have a talented group of players here at Shellharbour and there are a lot of guys still hurting from last year’s grand final loss who will be working harder than ever to go one better.”
“We know we’ve got great depth after reserves and thirds won their premierships last year, and there’s a good bunch of young kids coming through, but there’s still plenty of improvement in the side and I can’t wait for the season to get started.”
Gerringong won its third Group 7 first grade title in six years last season.
The Lions lead early, then came from behind to win 28-24 during the grand final against Shellharbour at Collegians Sports Centre.
Minor premiers the Sharks were unable to score their first premiership victory since 2001. The grand final defeat was only Shellharbour's second loss of 2015.