The Melbourne Storm has today announced it will be entering its own team in the New South Wales Premier League competition from 2010, thus ending its joint venture partnership with the Central Coast and the New South Wales Country Rugby League (NSWCRL).
The Melbourne Storm NSW Premier League team will be based in Melbourne from 2010, and play its home games at Olympic Park.
Storm CEO Brian Waldron is delighted at the prospect of the Storm having its own team in the NSW Premier League.
â€œWe recently advised the New South Wales Country Rugby League of our decision to end our relationship with the Central Coast and submit our own team in the NSW Premier League for the 2010 season and beyond,â€ said Waldron.
â€œThe outstanding development of local Victorian juniors, as seen by the recent success of our SG Ball team, has given us the confidence to focus on the growth of rugby league and rugby league players in our own backyard for the high level competitions we now find ourselves in.
â€œIn 2010, we will have Melbourne-based teams in the Under-18 SG Ball competition, the Under 20 National Youth competition, the New South Wales Premier League and the NRL competition.
â€œWe believe the Central Coast Storm was a worthy venture for us, however moving forward we now need to be focussing our resources into Victoria and the Melbourne metropolitan area.â€
Given the recent success of Melbourne Storm teams, and the developments of the game in the Victorian market, the timing of a Melbourne-based team in the NSW Premier League couldnâ€™t be better.
â€œThis is an extremely significant decision,â€ Waldron said.
â€œIt is confirmation of the outstanding work the Storm and its Development team has done in growing the game in this market. The fact we are now capable of providing a stand alone team in this Premier League is a wonderful endorsement for the growth of the game of Rugby League in this market.â€
The NRL team has played off in the past three grand finals, winning the ultimate prize in 2007; the SG Ball team played in the 2009 grand final in its inaugural year; and the under-20 team currently sits in equal second spot on the National Youth Competition ladder.
The Storm will also move into its new home from 2010, a $280million world-class purpose built rectangular stadium for rugby league located next door to its current home ground in the Olympic Park precinct.
The 2010 Melbourne Storm Premier League team will be made up of first-grade squad players not selected to play in the NRL on any given weekend, along with players selected from the local VRL competition. In addition to the current pathway for local juniors to make their way through the SG Ball and under-20 teams to the NRL, this will provide yet another pathway to the highest level for local rugby league players.
While the addition of the Melbourne Storm NSW Premier League team has created plenty of excitement at the club, Waldron is very aware of the outstanding work done by the Central Coast Rugby League , and their understanding in this matter.
â€œI would like to publicly thank Terry Quinn and the board of the Central Coast Rugby League for what has been a mutually beneficial, and thoroughly enjoyable partnership over the past three seasons,â€ said Waldron.
â€œIf there is a NSW NRL club looking for an area to base themselves in for the 2010 NSW Premier League and beyond, I encourage them to look at a possible joint venture partnership with the Central Coast.
â€œA great opportunity has arisen on the Central Coast and I canâ€™t recommend them highly enough for any potential partnership with an NRL club.â€