Victorian junior Dean Ieremia is a step closer to an NRL debut after being promoted to Melbourne Storm’s top 30 squad for the 2021 NRL season.
A tryscorer in Storm’s 30-10 pre-season trial win against Newcastle in Albury at the weekend, Ieremia hails from the Sunbury Tigers, a club based around 40km north-west of AAMI Park.
The 19-year-old has been on a development contract with Storm and takes up the 28th position in Storm’s roster for the upcoming season.
He will be available for selection for the round one clash with South Sydney at AAMI Park on March 11 and will be joining Reimis Smith, Isaac Lumelume and George Jennings as the chief contenders for the right wing position previously held by Suliasi Vunivalu.
Ieremia played for Storm in the NRL Nines in Perth last year and in the trial game against NZ Warriors before being one of the players whose season was hugely impacted by COVID-19 competition shutdowns.
Storm General Manager – Football Frank Ponissi said it was very pleasing to see another Victorian junior become part of Storm’s top squad.
"NRL Victoria has done a great job in developing Dean through their junior grades and then into the Thunderbolts system," Ponissi said.
"They identified him early on as a player with potential and he is starting to vindicate those predictions.
Unfortunately he missed out on basically a year of football in 2020 but the time he spent with us in what was largely a training role throughout that season, and the continued improvement he has shown during this pre-season, has warranted this upgrade to our top 30 list.Frank Ponissi General Manager - Football
"He will continue to work hard on his game and push for a spot in the gameday 17.
"We will also be looking to extend Dean’s contract past the 2021 season."
Ieremia loved both AFL 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 AFL squad and of course I followed the Storm."
It was Dean's coach at the Sunbury Tigers who recommended he trial for the Under 14 Victorian Thunderbolts side.
"One week after the trial 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."
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."