Melbourne Storm has strengthened its commitment to the Sunshine Coast during its current two-week stint in the region it now calls its “home away from home”.
Storm today announced new initiatives that will build on the club’s existing partnerships on the Sunshine Coast in a commitment that will further embed its connection to the region.
The new initiatives include:
- An extension of the partnership with Sunshine Coast Falcons as Storm’s feeder club to the end of the 2024 season;
- Establishment of the Tornados Academy to provide a new pathway for talented rugby league players into the Storm system;
- Commitment to return to the Sunshine Coast for the next three years for training, preparation or promotional opportunities.
Storm strengthens its ties with the Sunshine Coast
Storm CEO Justin Rodski said the initiatives would not only provide greater opportunities for local rugby league players to play NRL, but was a commitment by the club to its members, fans and commercial partners in the Coast region for the long term.
“The Sunshine Coast has become a second home for us in the last few years,” Rodski said today.
“We always feel very welcome here and we have some valuable partnerships in place with the community and commercial sector who have been extremely supportive of our club.
“Our netball team, Sunshine Coast Lightning, has been a success story since first entering the Super Netball League in 2017.
“The partnership and integration between our two clubs is unique in Australian sport.
It continues to provide local talent with the opportunity to engage with two of the most successful sporting teams in the country and has led to Coast juniors in both sports making it into the NRL and Suncorp Super Netball competition.Justin Rodski Melbourne Storm CEO
Storm General Manager Football Frank Ponissi said the development of players in the region had been important to the club’s recent successes.
“The Falcons have been the perfect fit for our players who aren’t playing first grade, giving them the chance to develop their craft against some quality opposition in the Intrust Super Cup with quality coaching,” Ponissi said.
“To have our partnership with the Falcons confirmed until the end of 2024 means we can plan with certainty, knowing our young, talented players have a pathway to playing first grade in addition to playing with our other feeder club, Brisbane Tigers.
“The Storm have been together with the Sunshine Coast Falcons since the 2015 season and during this time a number of Falcons players such as Nicho Hynes, Tui Kamikamica, Ryley Jacks, and Chris Lewis have been recruited directly from the Falcons team to the Storm.
“There is also a host of young players recruited to Storm such as Harry Grant, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Justin Olam, Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith who have been allocated to the Falcons in the Intrust Super Cup before embarking on successful NRL careers.
"The new Tornados Academy will provide young Sunshine Coast players with another pathway into the NRL system, by giving them exposure to our elite training and coaching programs as well as providing them with skills to prepare off the field.
Over the last few years, local juniors such as Tino Faásuamaleaui, Trent Loiero and Tyson Smoothy have all come through from the Falcons junior program to the Storm pathway system to make their NRL debut with the Melbourne Storm.Frank Ponissi General Manager - Football
The Tornados Squad will be overseen by former Storm premiership player and Queensland State of Origin representative Tim Glasby, who is now Storm Pathways Manager.
Tim and Storm’s Recruitment and List Manager Paul Bunn will continue to be based at the Sunshine Coast Stadium.
Having spent a lengthy period of time on the Sunshine Coast in 2020 and again in 2021, Storm has committed to returning to the region in future years, making a significant contribution to the local community and economy.
“From the support we receive from Sunshine Coast Council and the Stadium through to Novotel Twin Waters, we always feel very much at home whenever we have stayed on the Sunshine Coast,” Rodski said.
“Having this sort of support provides great confidence for the players, coaches and staff to prepare for a pre-season and regular season fixtures.
“Both Storm and Lightning have deep connections to the community through programs and commercial partnerships.
“Fuel Your Life, Rockcote and Springfree Trampolines are three national companies based in the Sunshine Coast who have partnered with the Storm group and continue to provide support to both elite teams.
“We hope to be able to continue giving back to the Sunshine Coast community for many years to come.”
The club also unveiled its 2021 Indigenous Round jersey, which features symbols referencing the time spent in the Sunshine Coast "hub" during Storm's premiership year in 2020.