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Young talent on the rise

Being only the second-ever born and raised Victorian to play in the Melbourne Storm jersey is a pretty cool claim to fame for 18 year old Dean Ieremia.

In the club's rich 22 year history, the only other player who could challenge for the title is Young Tonumaipea - who was born in Samoa and moved to Melbourne as a kid.

(The first born and bred Victorian to play for Storm was Mahe Fonua, who debuted for the club in 2012).

Regardless, 'local' Victorians who have pulled on the purple jersey is a very exclusive club, and one Ieremia joined with flair at the NRL Nines comp in Perth earlier this year.

His deft footwork, strength and pace made him a standout rookie among the fresh faces in the Nines squad.

"It was a privilege to put on the Storm jersey in Perth," Ieremia said.

"The purple jersey is not easily handed out to anyone, it all came down to hard work and effort.

"I felt honoured to wear it and a responsibility to work for my teammates and give everything I had in the tank. I had never played the Nines format before and the game was really fast paced.

Representing the Storm was the best thing that ever happened to me - 100 percent.

Dean Ieremia

Ieremia loved both Aussie rules and league growing up and started playing the latter at age 11, representing the Sunbury Tigers.

"As a Victorian I did follow both AFL and NRL," he said.

"Richmond was my squad fam - no hate - and of course I followed the Storm.

"Mainly I actually follow NFL and the Cleveland Browns - I'm a big fan of (wide receiver) Odell Beckham."

It was Dean's coach at the Sunbury Tigers who recommended he trial for the Under 14 Victorian Thunderbolts side.

"One week after the trail I found out I made the squad at fullback," Ieremia said.

"I developed through the system in the Under 15s, 16s, 18s and the 20s Thunderbolts squad, which is when I was picked up by the Storm."

At 178cm Dean is one of the shorter players in our top 30 squad, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in personality.

"I love playing fullback and wing - kick return runs are my favourite," he said, and with tongue firmly in cheek he added:

"One of my coaches said to me once; 'forwards do the bump offs and the hard yards, backs score tries and get the girls'... that day I decided I wanted to be a back."

The young winger is both playful and polite, no doubt informed by his upbringing as the third of eight siblings.

"Having a balanced lifestyle on and off the field is necessary when training in a professional environment," he said.

After a hard training session it’s good to have something off the field to ease my mind and for me that's my family - spending time with them keeps me grounded.

Dean Ieremia

"Outside of footy my mum and dad are my biggest inspiration. They have given up so much time and made so many sacrifices to take me to training and to games - it's beyond comprehension. 

"Their support is always with me and I’m grateful for that."

As for his biggest inspiration on the field, Ieremia rates fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen as his number one influence.

"Paps is a talented player but his work ethic around the game motivates me as a young player to put my best foot forward in everything I do," he said.

"To be honest I’ve learned a lot from everyone in the Storm system, not only game related things but things outside of footy - the importance of family for one.

"Josh and Suli the two great wingers have been teaching me specific skills on the wing that I can learn to improve my game and get better each and every day."

Ieremia on his way to score a try at the NRL Nines comp in February.
Ieremia on his way to score a try at the NRL Nines comp in February.

Ieremia hopes with patience and perseverance an NRL debut is just around the corner.

"My 2020 goals are to work towards earning that purple jersey through my efforts at training," he said.

"I want to remain humble and to always keep on that steady grind whether it’s at the gym or on the field.

"I'm willing to pursue rugby league as a full time career with hands outstretched for any opportunity that comes my way."