State of Origin star Dale Finucane will head back to his hometown of Bega and NRL games record holder Cameron Smith will be in East Gippsland as Melbourne Storm continues its Bushfire Relief efforts this weekend.
Some of Storm’s biggest names will be on the tools across the three days, helping communities recover from the extensive fire damage in the two regions, as well as conducting skills clinics for youngsters and thanking emergency services workers and volunteers.
The best places to see our Storm players will be:
East Gippsland - This Friday
5.45pm: Skills clinic and community barbecue held in injunction with the Bairnsdale Football and Netball Club at Bairnsdale City Oval
Bega Valley - This Saturday
2pm: Rugby League clinic at Tathra Beach Country Club
4pm: Community barefoot bowls evening at Tathra Beach Bowling Club
Storm CEO Dave Donaghy said the visits were about showing the club’s support for the two regions, as well as making a meaningful on-the-ground contribution to rebuilding the fire-affected communities.
"Our players are looking forward to saying hello to the people of Gippsland and the NSW South Coast who are going through such tough times."Dave Donaghy
“This weekend we’ll be doing what we can to show our support and these efforts will continue as the NRL season gets underway.”
Finucane, who was a Bega Roosters junior, will be joined by Ryan Papenhuyzen, Tui Kamikamica and Aaron Pene on the New South Wales South Coast on Saturday and Sunday (February 22-23).
They will head to Brogo, a small town north of Bega, on Saturday morning before spending the afternoon in the beachside town of Tathra.
Junior footballers are invited to part of a rugby league clinic at Tathra Country Club from 2pm followed by a community barefoot bowls evening at Tathra Bowls Club from 4pm.
On Sunday, the Storm contingent will be assigned jobs at the Blaze Aid camp in Cobargo.
Meanwhile, the East Gippsland group of Storm players and staff will arrive in the region on Friday afternoon (February 21).
Cameron Smith will be joined by Queensland State of Origin representatives Felise Kaufusi and Christian Welch, Kiwi international Nelson Asofa-Solomona, plus Isaac Lumelume and Kelma Tuilagi at a skills clinic and community barbecue held in injunction with the Bairnsdale Football and Netball Club at Bairnsdale City Oval from 5.45pm.
They will then head to Metung for dinner with local emergency services workers and volunteers.
On Saturday, the Storm crew will be on the tools in Sarsfield, north-east of Bairnsdale, from 7.45am.
The community visits are part of Melbourne Storm’s range of initiatives to support fire-affected communities.
A club-led Bushfire Appeal Round will coincide with Melbourne’s first home game against the Penrith Panthers on March 28.
The game will be a second opportunity for rugby league fans to honour firefighters, volunteers and emergency services personnel following the NRL’s league-wide Bushfire Appeal in round one.
Storm members and fans are encouraged to contribute to the Storm’s GoFundMe page which has raised almost $30,000 for the Victorian Bushfire Disaster Appeal.
This weekend’s activities are part of the NRL’s Road to Regions which sees NRL and NRLW players, as well as former stars, embark on a series of visits throughout remote and regional Australia in February.
Storm forward Albert Vete visited the Queensland town of Warwick as part of Road to Regions last week.