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Storm to Support Academy Schools

Melbourne Storm is taking its high-performance program to schools across Victoria to help support the next generation of players aspiring to play NRL.

Building on the introduction of the new ‘Road to AAMI Park’ pathway program, which includes the establishment of the Storm Academy and Junior Representative teams, this initiative will see all of Storm’s full-time pathway coaches and staff conduct weekly sessions in four rugby league academy schools - Mt Ridley College, Hallam Secondary College, The Grange P-12 College and Victoria University Secondary College.

Storm’s Academy Coach, Matt Duffie, Pathways Coach, Mark Russell, Pathways Performance Coach, Nick Le Comte, Dietician, Georgia Walker, and Wellbeing Coordinator, Dylan Wolfgramm, will be taking their expertise to the four academy schools in term two and three this year.

It is also planned that a number of current Melbourne Storm NRL players will make guest appearances during the program this season. Former Melbourne Storm player and Qld State of Origin star, Nate Myles, is already assisting with the Rugby League program at Hallam College.

“The introduction of our junior representative program this season has proven to us that there is an untapped talent pool in Victoria,” Storm Director of Football, Frank Ponissi said.

“83% of our current under 17 and under 19 junior rep teams attend one of the four academy schools in Victoria. We hope that through having our full-time coaches and staff in these schools, we can help with the continuing development of these aspiring Victorian players.

“Introducing the coaching philosophies that we use at Storm and offering support in strength and conditioning, nutrition and player welfare and support, will ensure these pathways are further strengthened well into the future. It will also help us to identify other players not yet in our junior rep system.” Ponissi said.

The Melbourne Storm Academy Schools Program will see staff deliver skills development and craft, strength and conditioning, nutrition and welfare support to the schools, beginning with open aged students in term two and under 16 aged students in term three this year. Storm is also discussing expanding the program to more schools in the future, including the fifth rugby league academy school in Victoria, Manor Lakes Secondary College, as well as for age groups 16 and under in future years.

It is hoped the program will not only support the players within these schools, but further develop the skills of those who are coaching school teams in the Storm Cup.

“We are very fortunate that we have a wonderful group of teacher coaches in these schools who do an outstanding job with their students and some are already involved with our Storm Junior Rep teams. We see this program will definitely help players and coaches develop their game, but ultimately, we see it as an incentive for them to go to school and participate in their community more broadly,” Ponissi said.

“If we can help these students develop on and off the field, then we know they have a much better chance of becoming a successful rugby league player.

“While we have a high number of Victorians playing in our junior rep teams at the moment, we hope that all three age groups will be dominated by Victorian players, and with the aim of producing more Victorian Melbourne Storm NRL players.” Ponissi said.

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.