Christian Welch was playing in the centres when he was first spotted by Storm recruiters.

Not only was he playing a different position, he was playing a completely different sport.

Welch appeared on the Storm radar as a teenager whilst playing at the rugby union state championships up in Brisbane back in 2011.

Liking what they saw, the Storm recruiters convinced the Sydney-born, Brisbane-raised talent to switch codes and join the development program at feeder Club Easts Tigers the following year.

That was when the forward known as Christian Welch was born.                          

“We asked the coaches (at Easts) to play him in the back row instead of the centres,” Storm recruitment manager Paul Bunn said.

“In our mind we had it as a bit of an experiment, we wanted to turn him into a front rower. The theory was that there was not too many big guys in that age group who played in the front row and had a bit of leg speed.

“The idea was to get him into the back row and then work him into the middle.”

The experiment worked.

“We just knew that if we gave him a task he would attempt to do it and he did. He put on weight, he got bigger and stronger,” Bunn said.

“Christian had a number of clubs trying to get him to sign with them but because he was in our development squad at Easts Tigers in Brisbane he elected to stay loyal and come down to Melbourne to play Under-20s.”

That show of loyalty did not come as a surprise to Storm officials.

As they do with all players, they did their due diligence on Welch. Bunn met with those close to him and it did not take long to form his view of the young man - clever, committed, supported and determined.

“You just knew when you interviewed his family, his teachers, all the character references just pointed to a lad who was coming from a good family and was a terrific young gentlemen,” Bunn said.

“He is an outstanding young fella.

“Character-wise his resilience, toughness and competiveness, he was just driven to achieve his goals on and off the field.”

And achieve them he has.

On the field Welch has played 41 NRL games to date in the purple jersey.

His 2017 was cut cruelly short after rupturing his ACL in Round 8 however true to form Welch threw everything into his rehab and had earned his spot back in Craig Bellamy’s side by the start of the year.

His accomplishments have also extended off the field, with the Storm big man using the back end of last year to complete his Bachelor of Commerce at Melbourne University.

There are a lot more strings to Christian Welch’s bow than just running a hard line but it is that same mindset that has driven him to succeed in every aspect over his first 23 years.

“He has a willingness to do his best for you,” Bunn said.

“He does a lot of little things right and prepares himself to perform on gameday, whether it be on the training paddock or with sleep, nutrition etc.

“Christian is pretty much a true professional.”