When Christian Welch returns to the first-grade stage for the first time in 2023, he won’t just return as a Melbourne Storm player, but a sole Club captain.
Previously sharing the title with former teammate Jesse Bromwich in 2022, followed by a season cut short by serious injury, the forward now sits as the Club’s first sole captain since the departure of NRL history-making captain, Cameron Smith.
“It's a really proud moment,” Welch shared.
“I came down to Melbourne as an 18-year-old and...I really love this club, the people here, what we're about, what we stand for and it's a huge honour to be captain.
It's not something to take lightly. It’s something that I'll cherish for a long time.
The 28-year-old will have leadership assistance from three vice-captains in Jahrome Hughes, Cameron Munster and Harry Grant, alongside Tom Eisenhuth and Ryan Papenhuyzen as members of the new leadership group.
“It's a group effort,” the Queensland representative admitted.
“We're all leading together. We're all working hard to set the standards off the field, but also on the field.
“We've got a great group of...senior guys, rep players that been around a long time and it's time for us to really take the club forward.”
With a career seemingly plagued by injuries and self-admitted setbacks, the 28-year-old believes it has shaped him as one who truly respects his position as a rugby league player.
“It builds that resilience, but also builds that appreciation for how lucky we are to play in the NRL and to play for Melbourne Storm,” the Easts Tigers junior said.
Coming back this preseason and playing the last two trial games, I don't take it lightly playing in this jersey.
“It's something I'd like to pass on to the younger boys who think they might have 5-10 years in this jersey. You’ve got to take one game at a time and really soak it up and enjoy cause it's a really special club.”