The Storm Academy returned for pre-season this week, hitting the training paddock alongside a fresh crop of new young talent that will make up playing squads across Storm’s U17, U19 and U21 junior representative squads.
While members of the Academy took up a large portion of Jersey Flegg squad last season, many were still eligible for SG Ball selection meaning they are primed to continue their development with a full season now under their belt.
Only narrowly missing out on finals after a heartbreaking final round defeat to the Canberra Raiders, the returning members of the Academy will continue to train under the guidance of Pathways Coach Matt Duffie and form part of a wider Storm Junior Representative program.
Duffie said the club places a large amount of emphasis on pre-season training and hopes the work the Academy put in now will result in a more consistent and quality season.
“A strong pre-season sets you up to have the best chance at a good season, from both a physical and football point of view, this is very important,” Duffie said.
“We put a big emphasis on pre-season at this club because we know it leads to consistent performances and robustness during the season,”
“We want to build on the physical and football development that we achieved last year and they’ve come back in really good shape which is pleasing and shows growth in them as people,” he said.
“On top of this I want to try and push our Academy players to become more self-driven with their football careers as I feel this will set them up with the best opportunity to succeed at the next level if they are to make it,”
“Our Academy players have an important role within our pathway as they are exposed to high level training with the NRL and it’s expected that when they drop back into our age group squads that they bring that knowledge with them and drive standards by leading by example,” he said.
Building off the success of last year’s inaugural Storm Academy, SG Ball (U19) and Jersey Flegg (U21) squads, the Club will continue to invest in homegrown talent and its junior players, running out a U17s Harold Matthews side in 2024.
Storm will now field sides across all junior age groups in the NSWRL competition, providing pathways for aspiring young talent in the Storm system while also ensuring the club can produce and nurture its own homegrown talent for the seasons to come.
“Getting players in Victoria into a high-performance environment at a younger age will accelerate their development and give them the best opportunity to succeed in football,” Duffie said.
“We want more Victorian locals playing for the Melbourne Storm NRL side, this is the ultimate goal.”