The Melbourne Storm playing group visited 17 junior rugby league clubs this week to experience grassroots football in Victoria, inspire young players and promote the game across the city.
The annual Storm In Your Club initiative sees players take part in training sessions, sign autographs and answer questions at suburban rugby league clubs across Melbourne to give kids an opportunity to play alongside their NRL heroes.
A jersey exchange was a highlight of each visit - host clubs were presented with a 2019 Melbourne Storm home jersey and, in return, players in attendance received the local club’s jersey to wear at an upcoming Storm training session.
Captain Cameron Smith visited the Eastern Raptors at Boronia with Tom Eisenhuth and said the squad loved meeting the people involved with local league clubs.
"Storm is proud to be Melbourne’s team and each year we head out across the city’s north, south, east and west over two nights," Smith said.
"The number of men and women, boys and girls playing rugby league in our home city continues to increase which is great news for the game.
"NRL Victoria and the volunteers who help to run each of the clubs are doing fantastic work in building rugby league at grassroots level."
NRL Victoria general manager Brent Silva said the rugby league community in Victoria was fortunate and grateful to have a "wonderful NRL club" supporting local grassroots football.
"Club-based participation in rugby league in Victoria has grown year on year for the past 13 consecutive years and is on track to achieve record numbers again in 2019," he said.
"The support Melbourne Storm provides NRL Victoria has certainly contributed to the ongoing interest to play this great game.
"The fact Storm players take time out of their schedule in the middle of the season to visit our local Melbourne clubs demonstrates a clear desire to see the game grow at all levels in Victoria.
"This is certainly appreciated by everyone, and in particular the kids and volunteers at each club who get a great kick out of having Storm in their club."