He replaces inaugural coach Anthony Seibold, who returned to Australia at the end of the 2010 season.
In appointing James, the professional Welsh club are following the successful lead shown by last year’s Co-operative Championship 1 champions Hunslet Hawks by hiring a player-coach who has made his name playing in Super League.
The 28-year old, who was educated at Welsh speaking school Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni, who are now a strong Rugby League playing school, started his Rugby League at Wales’ oldest surviving rugby league club, Cardiff Demons before being signed by then Super League club Widnes Vikings in 2003. After making a number of appearances in the top flight, he made his Wales debut against Russia before playing against Australia a week later.
He signed for Sheffield Eagles in 2004, then returned to Wales to play for the Crusaders in 2006, making a number of outstanding performances for both the Colts in 2008, whom he helped to the Conference National title, and the Crusaders’ first team in Super League.
He joined the Scorpions at the start of 2010 as club captain where he scored five tries, including the first and last of the season, and kicked 10 goals. He is also a community coach for Wales Rugby League where he has trained a number of junior and schools sides in South Wales in the ever-expanding Rugby League development programme in Wales. He will still keep this role alongside his Scorpions’ Head Coach position.
He has won 11 caps for Wales and was an ever-present in the side this year when Wales won the Alitalia European Cup to qualify for next year’s Four Nations where they will take on Australia, England and New Zealand here in the UK.
Dan Clements and Hywel Davies will remain as the assistant coaches for 2011.
“Initially it was a bit of a shock to have got the role,” James said. “But now I’ve had time to take it in, I’m excited and we’ve already started planning for the season ahead.
“The foundations have already been set by Anthony Seibold so hopefully I can build on that. I’ve got my own ideas on how we should play and how we can move things on a bit, but continuity is important so we’ve got to start with that and gradually build things as the season goes ahead.
“I’m still going to be playing so I’ll need to heavily rely on the other coaching staff. The stuff that Dan Clements, Hywel Davies and Ian Gibbons do on matchdays are going to be massive this year to help take us forward.”
Scorpions’ Chairman Phil Davies said: “We’re delighted to have appointed Aled in the role of Head Coach. He was outstanding for us last year and showed great leadership on the field. To say that he was instrumental in us reaching the play-offs in our very first season is a massive understatement.
“He has learned from one of the best around in Anthony Seibold and, what is the big thing for us, is he’s Welsh and is passionate about the development of young Welsh players. He has already proved this with Wales Rugby League over the last couple of years and his new role is the logical next step for him.
“We’re very excited about the new season. We have open trials for new players on Sunday 5th December and we’re selling more season tickets all the time. There’s a lot to be positive about here at South Wales Scorpions.”