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On the back of strong support from the local Sunshine Coast community the Thunderbolts are ready for takeoff in 2016.

The team yesterday launched their home and away jerseys for the upcoming season with coach Eric Smith joined by players Lachlan Timm and Josh Kerr for the announcement.

Local businesses Butler McDermott lawyers and Vantage Homes, along with the Sunshine Coast Council and Sunshine Coast Airport have thrown their support behind the Thunderbolts this season.

Sunshine Coast’s own SEA FM has also come onboard as the Storm Academy’s media partner with players from both the Thunderbolts and NRL side to be heard on-air during the 2016 season.

Thursday’s announcement further strengthens ties between the Club and the Sunshine Coast community.

Storm’s NRL squad will arrive in the region on Friday ahead of a big weekend of rugby league action for locals.

Saturday’s trial match against Wests Tigers will mark the first time an NRL game has been played on the Sunshine Coast in seven years.

A curtain raiser to the game will kick off at 2.15pm with the Thunderbolts playing a three-way trial match against Storm feeder teams Easts Tigers and the Sunshine Coast Falcons.

Thunderbolts coach Eric Smith is looking forward to his young players being tested against experienced Queensland Cup opposition.

“It is a great opportunity for the guys to test themselves against some more mature bodies and more experienced players as well. They are looking forward to the challenge,” he said.

“We are really privileged to be up here on the Sunshine Coast, we appreciated the support from the sponsors and local community that we’ve got to make this possible.

“This weekend is going to be really exciting for us, playing our first game up here on the Sunshine Coast.

“We’ve got a few local guys in our team which is really good and gives us that local feel, we couldn’t be happier with the support we’ve got from the locals and the community.”

Asked whether he hopes several of his players will take the ultimate step into the NRL, Smith emphasised that was the dream for everyone at Storm.

“That is exactly what we are here for, that is the pathway that we want to provide,” Smith said.

“That they come out of our Thunderbolt’s system and jump into Craig’s (Bellamy) team in the Queensland Cup and then obviously into the NRL.

“That is the direct pathway that we want to make really clear and visible for the players… that is the goal they can achieve.”

Limited general admission tickets are still available for Saturday’s full day of rugby league action at Sunshine Coast Stadium. Click here for more information.

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