The Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles have received a major boost ahead of the 2021 NSW Cup season after appointing two-time premiership-winning Manly Warringah Sea Eagles hooker Matt Ballin as their head coach.
The 36-year-old has 220 NRL games to his name and rediscovered his roots at Manly in 2018 when he became part of the Wellbeing and Education team. Manly coach Des Hasler coached Ballin in 2008 and 2011 when the Sea Eagles claimed two premierships.
Ballin was appointed as the Sea Eagles’ Jersey Flegg coach in 2019 and also assisted Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles coach Steven Hales. After the NSW Cup season was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ballin is keen to get things back on track for the upcoming season.
“I think we’ve got a great opportunity this year with the club,” Ballin said.
“I work with the team out at Manly and do the wellbeing stuff but can really make this club and team our own.
“I’m really excited about working with the players individually, we’ve got a great coaching staff coming on board and it’s a massive opportunity for a lot of players.
“There’s a lot of players looking for NRL contracts and there’s a lot competition around NSW Cup this year, so I think its going to be really high standard.
“Hopefully we’ll get Elijah Taylor who’s played for Wests Tigers, the likes of Tommy Amone who used to play with the club and Tim Simona, so some really big names and then there’s a new batch of young fellas coming through that want to prove themselves.”
Blacktown finished in 12th position in the 2019 season and in 2020 looked to be building as they had promising players like hooker Zach-Dockar Clay, Tevita Funa and Cade Cust. Ballin is hopeful the club can find success in the new year in a ten-team NSW Cup competition.
“I want to get the players back on the park and playing good footy and enjoying themselves – if they’re doing that, they’re going to be successful and going to want to win and play for each other,” Ballin said.
“We’ve got a great affiliation with Manly – we’re looking at getting some players back from them during the season as well and the players we’ve recruited.
“I think we’ve got the potential to finish in that top tier and play finals footy - that is our goal as a club.”