Steven Hales lives and breathes rugby league.
But when the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles offered Hales a senior head coaching role in the Intrust Super Premiership, he almost had to turn it down.
He had just taken on another new role as a father and now has an eight-week-old baby boy at home.
“People say timing is everything but timing probably wasn’t great here,” Hales said.
“I just wanted to thank Blacktown and Manly for being so supportive during that time – [Manly coach] Trent Barrett and [Blacktown Workers president] Keith Cochrane were amazing.
“My wife has definitely has taken on a lot at home and with the commitment and demands I’ve taken on here, I’m not at home as much as I’d like. But little Nate couldn’t be left in any better hands - she’s a fantastic wife and even better mum.”
It’s been a huge time of change in Hales’ life.
The Sea Eagles’ new mentor has also been with the Parramatta Eels as a coach for a long time, previously as head coach of the Holden Cup side before taking a role with the Wentworthville Magpies in the Intrust Super Premiership.
Hales is also a teacher and part of the rugby league program at Westfield Sports High in Fairfield.
He said it was great to play his part in the school’s first national schoolboys championship in 2016.
He said it was tough to leave the Eels, especially because his mother is a “mad” Parramatta fan.
“I don’t know what was more scary, telling Brad [Arthur, Eels head coach] or telling Mum,” he said.
“Brad and the Eels were very good to me and showed a lot of faith but I saw there was a really good opportunity to be a head coach, which was really exciting.
“I’m a boy from the west myself and I thought it was an exciting time to be part of something new and fresh. To work under someone like Trent is very exciting.”
It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for Blacktown Workers Club after it dismissed former Intrust Super Premiership coach Pat Weisner.
It led to several players and volunteers following Weisner out of the club.
Although admitting it wasn’t an easy situation to arrive into, Hales said he is all about the future and wants to move the club on to its new goals under his leadership.
“I can’t control what’s happened before but I can definitely control what happens in the future,” Hales said.
“For me, it’s about moving forward and if everyone wanted to come and get on board, I’d like to think we’re going to be successful but if they thought that you’d be more successful elsewhere, then I didn’t want to stand in their way.
“That was really important to me, that people come here and want to be part of the club. I think it’s a club on the rise and it’s only just scratched the surface.”
Hales sees Blacktown as a great area of opportunity with young players coming through the ranks.
Ideally he hopes to give opportunities for the club through to the higher grades from the local area.
Officially involved with the club for two matches now, Hales started his tenure with the club with a 22-6 over the North Sydney Bears –the club he previously played his representative football for - in round 11.
Although they suffered a 44-30 loss to Mounties this week, Hales said it was a great way to start.
As for aims for the rest of the season, Hales said he hasn’t thought too far ahead.
“We’ll take each week as it comes,” he said.
“Coming into the job now, it’s about changing some of the processes and I think the big thing for us here is standards.
“We really want to make sure we’re training at NRL level because that’s where we want to be.”