Young forward Trent Loiero was firmly on Craig Bellamy's radar during the pre-season.
The head coach would often mention - in both casual conversation around the club and when fronting the media - that the 20-year-old from the Sunshine Coast was a standout on the training track over the summer.
Those in the know expected Loiero would make his first-grade debut early in the year and sure enough, his moment arrived in round four against the Brisbane Broncos.
His impressive 18-minute stint off the bench justified Bellamy's confidence in him and earned him another call up in round 11 and consecutive NRL games in rounds 13 and 14.
Loiero has been part of the club’s development squad for the past two seasons and was upgraded to our NRL top 30 squad this month.
"The thing that excited me most about moving down to Melbourne initially was getting to train full time with blokes that I grew up watching and idolising as a young kid," Loiero said.
"I have learnt so much from so many of the boys but someone I look up to is Nicho (Hynes), considering his journey and where he’s come from.
"I moved in with him and a couple of the other boys when I first moved down and he took me under his wing and taught me heaps.
"Kenny and Felise are always helping me and giving me pointers at training too.
Stephen Kearney has been huge for me this year, we get together each week and talk about things; what I’m doing good or bad and what I should be focusing on for each game and training session.Trent Loiero
General Manager - Football Frank Ponissi said the footy department had earmarked Loiero as a long-term NRL player for Storm.
"He’s a pleasure to have at our a club – a hard worker and quick learner who is very popular among his teammates," Ponissi said.
"Trent is also another great example of the pathways that exist with our feeder clubs in Queensland, with seven players from the Falcons alone making their NRL debuts for Storm over the past two seasons."
He grabbed his first NRL try against the Raiders in Canberra and with the squad relocated to the coast for a few weeks he was able to play minutes in front of his home town crowd, but Trent said his personal highlight in season 2021 was his debut in Melbourne.
"The highlight of this year for me, by far, was round four when I made my debut," he said.
"It was a dream come true and having all my family and friends fly down to Melbourne to support me was something I’ll never forget.
I would love to play a few more games of NRL this year but if I don’t my goal is to go back and play consistent footy with the Falcons and hopefully play some finals footy there.Trent Loiero
Loiero now lives with fellow young forward Jack Howarth and although his roommate apparently doesn't know his way around a laundry, he said he's excited to spend at least the next two years in Melbourne.
"I live with Jack, aka the grub. I don’t think after 6 months he knows how the washing machine or dishwasher works," he said.
"I love the vibe of Melbourne city and all the little cafes around the place."
Away from footy, he's been trying his hand at golf but admits he might need some expert help to improve.
"Me and a few of the other boys like Boothy, Jack and Brandon have been playing a fair bit of golf this year but I’m still no good at it," he said.
"I've been saying I will go get some lessons all year but I still haven’t and I'm still getting flogged by Boothy every game."