Port Kembla Blacks recruit new coach for 2016
Brendan Crabb - Advertiser Lake Times
Port Kembla’s new coach has prioritised mentoring players on and off the field throughout 2016 – and is hopeful improved performances will soon follow.
The club’s new first grade playing coach is James Storer, in his first season in Group 7.
Storer takes the club reins from one of Port's favourite sons in the modern era, Mark Simon.
Storer arrives at Port Kembla from Collegians in the Illawarra competition.
The 34-year-old played for South Sydney in the NRL and represented Fiji in the sport.
The 2013 rugby league season marked another milestone in the long history of the Port Kembla Blacks.
After almost a century of competing in the Illawarra competition, Port Kembla began playing in neighbouring South Coast Group 7.
However, Port Kembla have been regular cellar-dwellers in first grade since switching to the Group 7 competition.
Storer has fond memories of playing against Port Kembla during his junior days and said he was excited to represent the club.
“As a coach, I look at myself as a mentor to the young boys,” he said. “The club has only won a few games (in recent years) and haven’t been real successful.
“My goal isn’t so much to win the comp, but develop these young boys and we’ll go from there.
“My biggest reason for taking the job… We have a mix of nationalities at the club.
“I’m half-Aboriginal and half-Fijian, and I believe I understand a lot of the things that they go through, on and off the field.
“A lot of the off the field stuff can relate to the on-field stuff.”
Due to a hefty injury toll, Port Kembla had to withdraw from the reserve grade competition midway through last season.
Storer said although this affected morale at the club last year, currently, “everything coming out of the camp has been really positive”.
He said this included encouraging attendance numbers at training.
“We’ve got some pretty good depth in the club, in all grades,” he said.
The Blacks will open their 2016 campaign on April 9 at Centenary Field against Albion Park-Oak Flats.
In other opening round Group 7 first grade action, Jamberoo meet Kiama at Kevin Walsh Oval on April 9.
Also on that day, Milton-Ulladulla play Nowra-Bomaderry at Bill Andriske Mollymook Oval.
Sunday, April 10 will feature Warilla-Lake South hosting Shellharbour City at Cec Glenholmes Oval, while reigning premiers Gerringong clash with Berry-Shoalhaven Heads at Michael Cronin Oval.