SPRING IN THE STEP: Kurri Kurri Bulldogs halfback Jade Porter playing for the Indigenous All Stars in this year’s pre-season fixture at St John Oval. Picture: Marina NeilIt’s been quite the rugby league ride for Jade Porter.
From outback inMoreeto multiple Newcastle first-grade premierships and even representingtheUS team touring Australia.
But it’s certainly not over for the 35-year-old.
On the field the playmakerwoundback the clock inSaturday’s season opener, taking charge of new team the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs and delivering a man-of-the-match performance in a come-from-behind16-10 win at home.
Off the field he’s 18 months into his latest venture with wife Lehetta running Garden Suburb-based KirinariHostel, which provides accommodation for Indigenous boys undertaking secondary education away from home.
It may well be this latest service that’s most satisfying, living on site and looking after 12 children reminding him of his own journey.
“It’s very rewarding,” Porter said.
“Kids come down from the bush, either furthering education or good footballers, and we help put them through school.
“Every day for 11 weeks of termit’s like being a parent to 12 boys, plus we’ve got our own three kids.”
As for his responsibilities with the boots on, not only was Porter last week instilled as part of Kurri’s leadership group in his first campaign at the club but on the weekend he showed the way.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve got three points in first grade,” he said.
“I understand last year I was injured [broken wrist] andat Wests we hadSam [Keenan] and Walks [Ryan Walker] killing it at the time. So it was hard to get a crack in there.
“But [on the weekend] itjust felt good being back playing first gradeand it was nice owning a team again. Trying to do things and organise things around meand be a leader.”
Since 2007, Porter has seven Newcastle RL titles to his nameacross first and second grades. Hestarted at Lakes, continued withSouths, kicked on at Maitland,most recentlyfor five straight winters withWests and now housed at Kurri.
He also holds dearly his back-to-back championship crowns (2011, 2012) with the Rebels representative squad and NSW Country selection, but “there’s another one not too many people know about”.
“I played six internationals for the US Tomahawks as well,” he said.
“My great-great-grandfather stowed on a ship when he was 16,came to Australia, met my great-great-grandmother and that’s how Iqualified.
“So I played when they toured here two years in a row around 2004 and 2005.”
Saturday the story keeps unfolding for Bulldogs recruit Porter with his maiden Coalfields derby against the Goannas at Cessnock.
“It was a pretty good experience when we played them in the Charity Shield with a massive crowd,” he said.
“I couldn’t believe how vocal they were. But the shoe’s probably on the other foot going to Cessnock this time.”