Pre-season is an important time for any player but for four players in particular this summer proved to be one that will resonate for some time to come.
Easts Tigers players Michael Kai and Billy Walters along with Nafe Seluini and Matt Grieve from the Sunshine Coast Falcons each spent four weeks training with Storm’s NRL squad over the pre-season.
Their training stint is a part of Storm’s continued commitment to providing a clear pathway for players from both its feeder teams into the NRL system.
While giving them a taste of an NRL player’s lifestyle, the Club also sees the partnership as a mutually beneficial one.
“For four weeks they experience what it is like to be a full-time player. They train full-time which helps them for their season ahead,” Storm Football Director Frank Ponissi said.
“It also provides us with an opportunity during the season through injuries or during the Origin period if we need to call on them they’ve had a background with how we train and how we play.
“It would make it easier to bring them back down so it is two-fold that way.”
With the benefits of the pre-season program felt across the Storm family, Ponissi sees the importance in continuing to see it grow into the future.
“Without a shadow of a doubt,” Ponissi said.
“We are in our sixth season of a relationship (with Easts Tigers). It’s been an extremely successful partnership.
“They are a strong Club and it really provides our players with a chance to go back and play in a really professional and strong team which is really important for us.”
Likewise with the Sunshine Coast Falcons, who are now entering into their second season in partnership with Storm.
Melbourne has had a significant Falcons flavor about it this pre-season with Seluini playing for Storm at the Auckland Nines while both he and Grieves (along with Kai and Walters) stepped out against Wests Tigers in last week’s trial.
Grieves has also been named for Storm in Saturday’s trial against the Bulldogs at Belmore.
Both players have now re-joined their Falcons teammates up north and their experience in Melbourne already appears to be paying dividends.
“Both boys enjoyed it immensley and they are wrapt with the experience they’ve got out of it,” Storm NYC Operations Manager and Falcons coach Craig Ingebrigtsen said.
“It gives them an understanding of what an NRL player has to do and what they have to do if they eventually want to be an NRL player.
“They’ve come back to training and have actually started little skill groups themselves, which has been really great for us.
“They’ve been really pro-active with what they’ve learned down there and they’ve brought that back to us. They are the little things I’ve seen and I’ve noticed and they are leading the charge in that regard.”