Melbourne Storm has agreed to terms with AFL player Shem Tatupu for the next two years with a Club option for a third.
The 20-year-old New Zealander is making the switch to rugby league from Hawthorn Football Club who he joined at the end of 2013 as a category B rookie and played 22 games in the VFL and VFL Development League over the past two seasons.
Standing 196cm tall and 104kg, the highly rated junior Auckland rugby league and union player has just completed pre-season with the Hawks and joins the Club as an outside back.
Tatupu’s link to rugby league is strong with his father, Tony, playing 67 games for the Warriors in two stints 1995-96 and 1998-99. He also represented New Zealand at international level.
Tatupu grew up playing rugby league but turned his attention to AFL after taking part in an AFL tournament in Auckland in 2009.
Melbourne Storm Football Director Frank Ponissi said, “Shem is potentially exciting prospect and possesses excellent athletic abilities and it’s great to have him join the Club as a developing outside back.
“He has grown up with a rugby league background and comes from an outstanding and successful culture at Hawthorn which we know will hold him in good stead at Storm.
“Shem will spend time with our development coaches in learning the Storm system and will play with one of our feeder teams in the near future allowing him the time to make the transition back to NRL and allow him to develop the necessary skills and physical qualities of rugby league.
“We look forward to how Shem progresses and develops at Melbourne Storm,” Ponissi said.
Tatupu said he was looking forward to starting at his new club.
“I’m very excited to join Melbourne Storm, I’m looking forward to starting training with my teammates and working hard to get an opportunity to play first-grade football one day.
“I would like to thank Hawthorn Football Club for giving me my first opportunity as a professional athlete and for the time they have put into my development on and off the field.”
“I can’t wait to get started with Melbourne Storm and I am excited to be part of the Club.”