The signing of Ricky Leutele has been hailed as "more than about football" by the Storm's general manager of football Frank Ponissi.
Ponissi told NRL.com that Melbourne got the deal done with "twenty minutes to spare before yesterday's 5pm deadline" in what is a great result for Leutele, his young family and the Storm.
There was some toing and froing with the NRL to get Leutele over the line regarding the player's valuation under the salary cap.
The fact the 2016 premiership winner was contracted to Super League club the Toronto Wolfpack made for protracted negotiations.
Leutele and his partner are from Brisbane and have three children under the age of five.
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After not being paid for several months and facing an uncertain future, the couple underwent sleepless nights until Ponissi was able to call them yesterday with the good news.
"It made you realise that you are dealing with people here and not just footballers so it was really satisfying moment to be able to ring Ricky yesterday and tell him that it was official and he has security for the next three months," Ponissi said.
"It was satisfying and one of those moments where it is more than about football because they are both from Brisbane and will be close to family.
"I'd had a few chats to Ricky and they are in an unusual setup where they are a Toronto team that lives between Toronto and Manchester ... and then COVID hits and suddenly he is limbo.
It was a no-brainer for us to chase him and chase him hardStorm general manager of football Frank Ponissi
"Then their visa runs out for them to stay in the UK so they have got to leave the country whether they had a contract with the Storm or not, given that their club has now withdrawn from the Super League this year."
The 30-year-old centre, who played 128 NRL games for the Sharks, has a few logistical hurdles to get over but is expected to be ready to play by September.
"He is still in England so it is a challenge to get him back home at the moment because flights are pretty scarce, so we are trying to get him back late this week or early next week,” Ponissi said.
"When he does arrive he has to go into two weeks of quarantine and we have got to remember he hasn't been involved in team training since March, so he's not going to be available for us until September."
The Storm had kept the 30th spot in their roster free in case they were undermanned through injury but wanted to bring in the right player.
Several weeks ago Melbourne considered adding a front-rower to their squad with Tui Kamikamica undergoing back surgery and Max King in rehab after suffering an Achilles injury.
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After losing three centres in the space of several days, and then Marion Seve having plastic surgery on a cut to his ear after Sunday's win over the Knights, the decision to instead target a centre of Leutele’s class has proven wise.
"Last week against the Broncos we had Brenko Lee break his hand and Paul Momorovski did his finger, and then Justin Olam in his first session after the Broncos game rolled his ankle," Ponissi said.
"We lost three of our four centres in a span of a few days and we knew we only had until yesterday to fill [the position].
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"It was probably after the Sonny-Bill Williams signing that we decided to look at Toronto's list and we saw Ricky Leutele's name, a player who fills the criteria we were looking for with his position and his ability to make a difference. It was a no-brainer for us to chase him and chase him hard."
The Storm had a conversation with all their centres to explain Leutele's signing.
"They were all great with their response and all rate him highly as a centre,” Ponissi said.
"While it is competition for them in their position they don’t fear competition. They will rise to the challenge and it will bring out the best in them."