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Dear Members,

It’s been a big week off-field for Melbourne Storm ahead of our game against North Queensland on Saturday night.

First, two significant re-signings – our major partner Crown Resorts and of course, the one and only Billy Slater.

Crown has been a tremendous partner of Storm since 2011.

Their ongoing commitment is testament to the strong relationship both parties have established over a number of years now and I look forward to seeing that grow further into the future. To all at Crown – thank you.

At the same press conference on Thursday, Billy Slater, who made his debut in 2003, announced he would finish his career as a one Club player.

Billy and Storm agreed to a new two-year deal which is great news for all. We see Billy as 32 years young and to us he remains the best No.1 in the game and an outstanding leader and mentor for our next generation of stars.

It pleases me to no end that Billy, Nicole, Tyla and Jake will remain at Storm for the next two years, at least.

Continuing the news, this morning in Queensland, we are launching the Storm Academy.

This is an NRL-first project that I wanted to explain directly to our members as I promised I would for all major announcements.

The Storm Academy will be based on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and will be our major junior recruitment and development base.

From 2016, it will be the home of our Under-20’s side, following a lengthy review of the program.

Storm is basing both full-time and part-time staff at the Academy, which will call Sunshine Coast Stadium, at Kawana Waters, home. Storm has partnered with the Sunshine Coast Council to ensure the program is successful and will work closely with Queensland Cup feeder team, Sunshine Coast Falcons.

I’d like to also welcome Sunshine Coast Council as Storm’s first Queensland Community Partner.

The above changes will make the pathway smoother for our Under-20 players given senior feeder teams are located (Falcons and Brisbane Easts) next door or nearby.

The facilities are world-class – there are seven rugby league fields at the venue, changerooms, team meeting room, a gymnasium and a pool. We hope our program, combined with the above facilities, gives our junior players every possible chance to make it to the NRL as a Storm player in the future, should they be willing to work hard enough.

By taking Storm to a heartland area – we hope to be front of mind to talented junior rugby league players, as they consider potential career opportunities and destinations.

For Victorian juniors, Storm will continue to provide funding for the Under-16 and Under-18 programs, with a selected number of elite Victorian players to be guaranteed a place within Storm Academy each year.

I spoke to the parents of players involved in the program on Monday night informing them of this. This will ensure a pathway for elite Victorian players continues. Storm is also working towards the launch of a development program that will provide local players (age 19-20) with elite coaching across a season to assist their individual development – building the local NRL Victoria competition at the same time.

I’m sure our members have many questions about the program and what happens now to curtain-raisers, so I’ve attempted to answer them as best I can under topics contained within the link here: CLICK HERE

If you have time to click on the link above, I’d encourage you to do so, or contact our membership team direct. Our digital media team will also organise another fan chat through Facebook shortly for any further questions you may have about the Club.  

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you at AAMI Park tomorrow night, for our last home game of the Premiership Season against the Cowboys.

It’s going to be an absolute blockbuster and an exciting finish to the Premiership Season looms.

Go Storm

Dave Donaghy

CEO – Melbourne Storm 

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.