Melbourne Storm and North Sydney Bears have announced a new partnership that will see the NSW Rugby League club become a third feeder team for Storm from 2024.
Under the two-year agreement, Storm players will now be divided between three feeder clubs - North Sydney Bears and existing feeder clubs, Sunshine Coast Falcons and Brisbane Easts.
The new partnership was announced at the Bears home ground of North Sydney Oval by Bears Chief Executive Officer, Gareth Holmes, Storm Chief Executive Officer, Justin Rodski, and Storm General Manager Football, Frank Ponissi.
“We have a long and proud partnership with both Easts and Falcons which has produced some great players for Storm over the years including our captain Christian Welch, Trent Loiero, Nicho Hynes, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Tui Kamikamica,” Ponissi said.
We were always interested in having a stronger connection with NSW Rugby League given the number of players we have on our list from the state. The Bears are a perfect fit for us on a number of levels, so when this opportunity was presented, we jumped at itFrank Ponissi General Manager Football, Melbourne Storm
“We already have a connection with the Bears through Kieran Dempsey who was the coach in their last NRL season of 1999, and who continues to help with our recruitment in Sydney.
“From next season, our connection with NSW will be even stronger through the Bears partnership, our Jersey Flegg and SG Ball teams and potential new Harold Matthews team, offering a genuine pathway for players to come to Melbourne Storm.
“We also think this partnership will be great for supporters of both clubs living in New South Wales as they can watch NRL players in the NSW Cup each week and we also see North Sydney Oval becoming a base for Storm for some of our away trips.” Ponissi said.
The agreement will also provide opportunities for Victorian female players hoping to reach the elite level while the Bears will send a number of players and staff to participate in Storm’s pre-season training.
One of rugby league’s foundation clubs, the Bears are currently sitting on top of the Knock-on Effect NSW Cup ladder.
“The partnership announcement today reinforces the fact that the Bears are not only a respected rugby league brand but a sought-after development route for NRL players. We have a been feeder club for the Roosters, Rabbitohs and now the Storm, all successful NRL clubs who have trusted us to prepare players for their NRL programs” Holmes said.
“Our strong heritage aligned to our own pathway from Harold Matthews to the NSW Cup is strengthened further by this partnership giving our players a defined route to the NRL” Holmes added.
Storm announce partnership with North Sydney Bears