The smell of rugby league is well and truly back in the air with Melbourne Storm just two weeks away from returning to competitive football.
As the players grow ever eager to swap training drills for some real opposition the Club is in the process of shaping its squad for the Auckland Nines, kicking off on February 6.
This will be the third installment of the showpiece event that has grown into an annual carnival of entertainment.
This year Storm have been drawn in the Waiheke pool to face the Roosters, Rabbitohs and Eels, who they will open their campaign against in Game 2 of the tournament.
"We want to enjoy the occasion because it is a great weekend, it really is," Storm Football Director Frank Ponissi said.
"The pressure to win is not as great as it is normally on an NRL weekend but once you take the field, whether you are playing Nines or NRL the players are players, they are competitive and they want to win."
"We are slowly putting together a squad… we’ve got a skeleton of a side we think we are going to go over and we think we are going to be a very competitive side.
The Club has several new recruits who will be hoping the occasion will mark the first time they take the field in a purple jersey.
Following the Auckland Nines weekend, Storm will take on Wests Tigers at the Sunshine Coast on February 13. Limited tickets are still available here.
The Club will then wrap up its pre-season preparations the following week against Canterbury at Belmore.