Players from Melbourne Storm’s feeder clubs got the unique opportunity to pull on the purple jersey on Saturday night, taking part in a trial match against the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Alongside members of the Storm Academy, Easts Tigers, Sunshine Coast Falcons and North Sydney Bears players that trained with the NRL Top-30 squad over pre-season got the chance to put what they learnt into practice in a hit out at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
Melbourne Storm Assistant Coach Todd Lowrie said the chance to pull on the purple jersey is a fitting opportunity for those that have spent time training on Gosch’s Paddock this season.
“In previous years the guys who have come down and trained from the feeder clubs haven't ended up playing a game, they’ve just come down to train and go back to their feeder clubs so haven't got a chance to pull on the Melbourne Storm jersey,” Lowrie said.
“This is the first time that we've actually had a game designated for them, giving them an opportunity to wear the purple jersey and show us what they can do,” he said.
Lowrie said it was also a good opportunity for the coaching staff to see players implement what they learnt during the Storm pre-season in the fast-paced environment of a game.
“Craig Bellamy spoke about effort areas and defensive actions being really important to this club and how they’re the things we were going to be looking for,” he said.
“It was good to give them an opportunity to go out there and do that in a game scenario, it also gives them an exposure of what it's like to be in an NRL Melbourne Storm game week," he said.
Meanwhile, for the Storm Academy players taking part in the trial, it was an opportunity to test themselves against older and more experienced opponents.
“The Academy players went up against men for the first time, as most of them are just playing age group footy so it was good for them to take that next level up from playing against age group guys,” he said.
For a portion of the feeder players, it won’t be their final time in purple, with a select few getting the opportunity to run out for the Storm in the first NRL trial.
“There will be probably five or six of the feeder guys that'll get a run on Thursday night, which is good reward for how they performed on Saturday,” Lowrie said.
While players will return to clubland now in time for their clubs respective HostPlus Cup and Knock on Effect campaigns, further opportunities may arise in the future.
“For any guy that's done well and impressed us over the first two trials, there's certainly an opportunity to look at them throughout the year,” Lowrie said.
“A bit like Kane Bradley did last year, he went back to the Brisbane Tigers and then got selected in Round Two to play,” he said.
“There's certainly an opportunity for those guys to put their best foot forward and possibly get a contract.”