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Melbourne Storm will establish a new academy hub on the Sunshine Coast providing an improved pathway for young talented footballers hoping to play in the NRL.

Former Falcons players Tyran Wishart and Trent Loiero attended the announcement of the new Sunshine Coast academy hub, which forms part of an extended feeder club partnership between Storm and the Sunshine Coast Falcons.

Storm General Manager Football, Frank Ponissi, said the three-year extension of the partnership with the Falcons will further strengthen the Club’s connection in the region and aims to find and develop young talent.

“Our partnership with the Falcons has been a huge success for both clubs,” Ponissi said at the announcement made alongside Storm CEO, Justin Rodski, and Falcons CEO, Chris Flannery.

“To announce an extension of this partnership for another three years, taking it out to 2027, and introducing a new pathway for talent in the region is very exciting.

“We have seen players such as Nicho Hynes, Tui Kamikamica, Trent Loiero, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Chris Lewis recruited directly from the Falcons and a number of players like Harry Grant, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Justin Olam and Jahrome Hughes who have carved out their careers with the Falcons before finding their feet in the NRL.

Giving local talent access to the Storm system is not only great for the region but will further strengthen our existing academy programs.

Frank Ponissi General Manager football, Melbourne Storm

“It puts us in a good position to attract young, talented players who hope to play first grade and adds to the opportunities at our two other feeder clubs, Brisbane Tigers and newly announced North Sydney Bears.” Ponissi said.

The three-year extension of the partnership will see Storm increase its presence in the region with training camps and community engagement activities, in addition to its ongoing focus on recruitment and talent development.

In 2021 Storm announced the establishment of the Sunshine Coast-based Tornados Academy – a new pathway for players into the Storm system and overseen by former Storm premiership player and Queensland State of Origin representative Tim Glasby, who is now Storm Pathways Manager.

The new Sunshine Coast academy hub will further strengthen Storm’s broader academy program which includes development of young players in Victoria and affiliated states. Further details of the Sunshine Coast academy hub will be finalised in the coming weeks.

Falcons CEO, Chris Flannery, said the club was excited to extend the NRL feeder team affiliation with the Melbourne Storm.

This feeder team extension reinforces the Melbourne Storm’s continued investment into our region, and junior and senior pathways, and will allow us to continue to provide a clear pathway to the NRL for our local Sunshine Coast players,

Chris Flannery CEO, Sunshine Coast Falcons

“This very successful partnership was first formed in 2014 and has provided Falcons players with the opportunity to play for the Melbourne Storm through our feeder team affiliation.”

Storm announce extension with Falcons

Storm CEO, Justin Rodski, said the Sunshine Coast will continue to be an important pillar in the growth of both the Storm and Sunshine Coast Lightning, owned by the Storm Group.

“We have worked really hard to develop a close connection with the community, businesses and council over the years,” Rodski said.

It’s a place we feel really comfortable and welcome, particularly through our partnership with the Falcons and with our netball team, Sunshine Coast Lightning, being firmly established within the community.

Justin Rodski CEO, Melbourne Storm

“We already have in place a strong partnership with the Falcons. This extension shows our commitment to the region and to giving young, talented players a chance to play NRL.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.