As Melbourne Storm ran onto a pristine Albury Sports Ground for training on Wednesday, they may have wondered what all the fuss was about.
Story credit: Roy Ward/SMH
The Storm had their deal to train at the local rugby league ground dashed by City of Albury councillors who called a meeting on Tuesday night and voted 5-4 against the Storm training on council-run grounds.
Storm officials had already began moves earlier in the day to move to the home of Australian rules team Albury Tigers, who privately run the sports ground.
Storm players ran onto a lush, green surface on Wednesday with rugby league lines painted and NRL goal posts in place.
The team raised a few eyebrows when they were pictured training in a large group in their first session of the new pre-season. But a Storm spokesperson said the club had been given approval by a COVID-19 official to run more than 10 players in a yo-yo test, given they were appropriately spaced.
The NRL also confirmed the Storm had not breached the strict training protocols laid out for all clubs to resume training.
"We aren't going to do anything against the rules with the eyes of the sporting world on us today," the Storm spokesperson said.
As Storm players shrugged off the decision to deny them access to council-run venues, the club's chief executive Dave Donaghy noted that local businesses had welcomed the camp, which will mean their party of 50 players and officials will account for more than 200 hotel nights this week while also hiring a local gym.
The club will train in Albury until Saturday then hope Victoria's restrictions on training could be eased, which would allow them to return to AAMI Park next week. If not they will continue in Albury in hope of the season resuming on May 28.
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