Where are they now – Dayne Weston
One of the good guys of rugby league, Dayne Weston will never forget the two years he spent here in Melbourne.
Storm made a profound impact on Weston and the feeling was well and truly mutual.
Last week he returned to AAMI Park to pay a visit after moving back home from the UK.
The 30-year-old has spent the last two seasons playing with English side Leigh, helping them earn promotion to the UK Super League.
In June he decided to call time on a career that spanned over a decade. He found the last chapter a fitting way to end his on-field rugby league journey.
“I loved it, I took the opportunity with both hands,” Weston said.
“The ability to travel around Europe and see so much of the world was another added bonus.
“I had another two years to run on my contract over there but I thought it was time to put something and someone first with my family so I retired and moved back home.”
That home now is on the Gold Coast where he is starting to build a life with his wife and their two sons, Jett and Blaze.
Weston’s career started back in 2007 when he made his NRL debut with Cronulla. After one season he completed two-year stints with North Queensland and Penrith before landing in Melbourne.
He played 16 games in the purple jersey between 2014-15.
Despite being just two months into retirement, Weston is now ready to get stuck into the next chapter of his life.
“I just need a bit of structure back in my life, that is the biggest thing I miss,” Weston said.
“I’ve been told what to do for the last 12 years of my life. As nice as it is to go to the beach every day and drink coffee it does get a bit old.”
Weston still hopes to stay involved in the game by combining his passion for football with a passion to help those going through mental health challenges.
Before moving back to Australia, Weston got involved with the UK State of Mind program, a charity aimed at promoting mental health among sports men and women.
Now he hopes to continue that work in the NRL.
“I am really passionate about getting involved in welfare and the mental health side of things,” Weston said.
“To be involved in the game and to still be doing something where I can help people through my own experiences is something that I would love to do. “
The inspiration for his new career path has grown from his friendship with Storm welfare officer Peter Robinson.
The pair formed a close bond during the 2014 and 2015 seasons and it is Robinson’s work with players and the wider community that peaked Weston’s interest in what life after football may hold.
“Just seeing what he does, how well he does his job and the difference he makes in individuals lives,” Weston said.
“If they are going through something tough or they just need their day brightened up, Robbo is always there to help.
“Through Robbo I started being a volunteer at the Royal Children’s Hospital working with their Indigenous section.
“Through personal experiences for me and my mental state at times, it has made me want to help others who might have mental health issues and making them realise that things can get better.”
During his visit back to Melbourne last week Weston was blown away by the reception he received by the playing group and staff.
Two years may have passed but the 30-year-old remains proudly purple.
That is largely due to the incredible support he received not only during his time at Storm but even whilst living over on the other side of the world.
“I wasn’t at the Club long but the impact it had on me was huge,” Weston said.
“To see the respect I’ve got off people at the Club, I am lost for words at times. They always tell me that I am always welcome and that I will be part of this Club forever.
“I’ve been at other Clubs and I’m not bagging the other Clubs I’ve been to, but I have never felt so welcome in my life than when I was at Melbourne Storm. Even when I was in the UK they would always keep in touch. Craig would send me texts, Frank Ponissi and Robbo as well.
“To come back last week and get the reception I did, for the boys to get around me… it was unreal.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the Club and how good the organisation is. Just to be involved was an honour to be part of it and something I will always hold close to my heart.
“I could go on and on about Melbourne. The respect you give and you get in return at Melbourne goes hand in hand. You treat someone the way you want to be treated, that is the way it goes at Melbourne.”