Melbourne Storm has declined an invitation to participate in next year’s World Club Series, CEO Dave Donaghy confirmed today.
Donaghy said the decision had been made in order to give Storm the best possible preparation ahead of the 2017 season.
In past years, only the NRL Premiers travelled to the UK to take on the Super League champions, however, the format was expanded in 2016 to include other teams.
Melbourne has several players heading to the UK to take part in the Four Nations tournament later this month.
Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk will represent Australia, while Jesse Bromwich will captain a New Zealand team that includes Kevin Proctor and Tohu Harris.
The Rugby League World Cup will also be staged in Australia and New Zealand at the end of 2017.
“As a Club, we’ve decided that staying in Australia will provide our team with the best possible preparation for the 2017 NRL season,” Donaghy said.
“Having treasured past visits to the UK in 2008, 2010 and 2013, we thoroughly value the concept of the World Club Challenge. However a regular NRL season is already incredibly taxing and, as a non-Sydney team, our players travel more than most.
“We have committed to playing two trial matches in Australia which we believe will serve as a better lead-in for the team ahead of next year’s opening round.
“We wish Cronulla all the best as the NRL’s representative against the champion team of England, Wigan.”
Storm will take part in the Auckland Nines tournament in early February with details of Melbourne’s trial matches to be announced in the coming weeks.