Three Melbourne Storm squad members who have made their NRL debuts this season have signed contract extensions after impressing during 2020.
Back-rower Chris Lewis, who has been on Storm’s development list, has been promoted to the club’s fulltime squad for the first time after accepting a new two-year contract.
Meanwhile, Fijian Test winger Isaac Lumelume and forward Aaron Pene have exercised their one-year options, extending their time with Melbourne to at least the end of the 2021 season.
Lewis has made significant steps forward with his career since becoming the latest Storm player to relocate from the Sunshine Coast Falcons to take up his development contract at the beginning of pre-season.
A qualified schoolteacher, he made his NRL debut just a few days short of his 28th birthday in Storm’s round four victory against South Sydney at AAMI Park.
He has gone on to make another four appearances, including playing 77 minutes and scoring a try when he started in the back-row against St George Illawarra in round 20.
Pene, 25, made his debut in that game against the Dragons, running for 88 metres in just 36 minutes of gametime, while Lumelume now has three NRL matches on his record after donning the Storm jersey for the first time in round 16 against Manly.
Both players joined Melbourne midway through the 2019 season – Lumelume from Cronulla and Pene from the CQ Capras in the Intrust Super Cup.
Storm general manager – football Frank Ponissi said all three players had made the most of the opportunities they had received in 2020.
“As well as being very diligent and valuable contributors at each training session in what has been a challenging 2020, Chris, Isaac and Aaron all showed they had potential for more games in the NRL when they were given their chance this year,” Ponissi said.
“It hasn’t been an easy road to the NRL for all three of them and we are seeing the benefits they’re receiving from being part of the Storm system.
“We’re very hopeful each of them will have an even bigger role to play in 2021 and beyond.
“It’s also clear that the time they have spent with our feeder teams – Isaac and Aaron with Easts Tigers and Chris with the Falcons – has helped them to be well prepared for the step up to the NRL.”