Melbourne Storm today launched the 2016 Emergency Services Cup from the Club’s pre-season training camp at Geelong Grammar.

Storm CEO Dave Donaghy was on hand alongside Victorian Minister for Sport John Eren and CFA Lara representative David Love.

The Club is honoured to play for the cup as it kicks off its 2016 season against the St-George Illawarra Dragons at AAMI Park on March 7.

The playing group has spent the past two weeks in Geelong and have been warmly welcomed by the local community as they ramp up preparations for the season ahead.

The Club used the final day of the camp to offer its support back to the hundreds of volunteer emergency services personnel who help fight bush fires across Victoria and New South Wales.

“Given the recent events that took place in this part of Victoria and particularly the Great Ocean Road area that was impacted, we felt it was really important that we re-launched the Emergency Services Cup right here,” Donaghy said.

“I am pleased as apart of that to announce that we will be hosting 1,000 Emergency Services workers as well at that game.

“There will be some other activities and initiatives that we will be able to announce in the lead-up to that game.

“It is a very important piece of silverware for us, it is something our guys also play and strive very hard to retain.”

Storm are the current holders of the cup having defeated the Dragons twice last season.

The concept is now in its eighth year after it was first launched in 2009 following the devastation of the Black Saturday bushfires.

Recent fires in Wye River and Separation Creek serve again as a reminder of the dangers of bushfires and the men and women who courageously work to combat them.

“Through the Christmas break many families went away… but our firefighters and emergency services were out there fighting that fire and to them we can’t say thank-you enough,” Minister Eren said.

“Melbourne Storm are a great club, assisting where they can. We know the champions that they are and in this instance, on March 7 in the first round against the Dragons, we wish Melbourne Storm all the bets of course.

“Providing 1,000 tickets to our emergency services who do so much for our state, I applaud the Melbourne Storm for doing that.”