Dallas Johnson quits Melbourne Storm

Melbourne Storm has today agreed to a request from Dallas Johnson’s management to grant the premiership-winning lock a premature release from his contract.

Johnson, who has been an integral part of one of the most successful team’s in National Rugby League history, will join English Super League club, Catalans, from next year.

Johnson reluctantly sought a release from the Storm after Catalans, known as the Dragons, put together a three-year deal that proved enough to convince him to shift to France in 2010.

Dual Premiership player Johnson described the decision to shift to the northern hemisphere as the toughest of his career.

“The Storm, as a club, has meant so much to me,” said Johnson, who has played in the last four State of Origin series’ for Queensland.

“This was without doubt the toughest decision of my career.

“I made my debut in Storm colours, represented Queensland and Australia while playing for them, and have made some life-long friends.

“Storm members and supporters are the most devoted in rugby league and I want them to know that I am indebted for the support they have shown me throughout my career.

“But there are other areas of life I want to explore and living abroad and travelling is absolutely up there on the list.

“The opportunity to continue my rugby league career with the security of a long-term deal and in such a beautiful part of the world was one that I couldn’t refuse.

“I’m now looking forward to making a new start in France and experiencing living overseas.”

Melbourne CEO Brian Waldron joined the club’s head coach, Craig Bellamy, in lauding Johnson’s contribution to the Storm.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we’ve agreed to the release request,” said Waldron.

“Dallas has been an integral part of our playing roster since making his debut in 2003.

“His outstanding record speaks for itself and his contribution to the club was recognized when he was awarded Life Membership in 2008.

“His selfless approach has been integral to our success and his leadership on and off the field will be greatly missed.

“This is a great opportunity for Dallas and his wife, Mel, and as a club we would never stand in the way of such a great life experience that awaits.

“He departs with our absolute best wishes and sincere thanks.”

Bellamy, who made his debut as coach on the same night Johnson played his first NRL game, described the hard-hitting lock, previously contracted until the end of 2011, as the toughest rugby league player he has seen.

“For a guy his size, to do what he does on the field, week after week, is simply incredible,” said Bellamy.

“He’s the toughest player I have ever seen.

“He’s a popular guy amongst the players and he will be missed by all.”

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