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Storer stands strong

Elenoa Baselala
Sunday, November 12, 2017

NO one in the Vodafone Fiji Bati side has had a tough childhood like veteran James Storer.

Storer, who is the oldest in the side, has been playing for Fiji since 2007.

Not only did he grew up around drugs, alcohol and violence, Storer also spent time in prison as a juvenile.

"My childhood was challenging, I grew up in a little town that is similar to the villages. Mum was an alcoholic and dad spent most his time in prison.

"At that time it was just me and my younger sister, I had an elder brother who committed suicide when I was 11.

"It was very challenging trying to play sport, it was not easy to get to places and had to get lifts to get to places.

"My mum and dad never took me to get to places, so I had to fight as a kid. And I am so glad how I turned out because if it turned out the other way I would not be the person I am today.

"It's what made me as a person growing up in so many challenges. I have never tasted alcohol or drugs in my life."

Storer's father is from Vanuabalavu, Lau and a vasu of Vugalei, Tailevu. Storer's mother is an Aborigine.

"When I first started playing rugby league, I told my grandmother that I was going to play for Fiji, she laughed and told me that I was an Australian and not a Fijian.

"But I wanted to play for her — my grandmother because she was a safe haven for me and my sister- no alcohol, drugs or violence.

"I'm living proof that you don't need to have all the talent to make it in the world. You just need 10 per cent talent and the 90 per cent is how much you want it.

"That's why I have more caps than any other player now."

Storer returns home now and then and says that if it wasn't for rugby league he would not understand his heritage better.

"I'm pretty close to Fiji. Our house is in Veisari, my grandmother's sisters family still live there. I have been back a couple of times. I didn't know much about my roots when I first represented Fiji.

"When Rabele first asked me where I was from Fiji, I told him it was somewhere along the Queens Rd.

"This has been a blessing, I have been able to meet my Fijian family."

A personal trainer, Storer is also a "farmer".

"I plant positive seeds in kids and help them be better in life.

"When I was growing up, I got into a lot of trouble and got kicked out of high school. The turning point was when I was sentenced to prison and that woke me up."

Storer has been having boot drives in Australia, which he gives to children in rural Fiji.

He has given rugby boots to children in Ra and this year gave 400 pairs of boots to children in Dreketi, Vanua Levu.

"After the RLWC, I will start the boot drive again and donate them to the villages in the interior of Fiji."

One of the four surviving members of the 2008 RLWC team, Storer believes Fiji has a strong chance in this year's world cup.

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