Melbourne Storm launches youth academy on Coast
MELBOURNE Storm has launched a 'ground-breaking' youth academy to be based on the Sunshine Coast from 2016..
The Storm Academy will see the NRL club's National Youth Competition (NYC) team, which plays in the high-profile under-20s Holden Cup, shifted to Sunshine Coast Stadium alongside feeder team, the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
The NRL-first project will be Melbourne's major junior recruitment and development base and will provide the best possible pathway for young footballers to make it to the Storm's NRL squad.
In partnership with the Sunshine Coast Council, the academy will be based at Sunshine Coast Stadium, the premier venue for sport in the region, where they will have access to seven fields, swimming pools, meeting and change rooms and gymnasium.
The academy will be headed by former Australian and NSW prop Matt Adamson, coach of Storm's Under-20s in 2014, who has been based on the Sunshine Coast this season as Queensland coaching director.
The Storm will shortly announce further full-time and part-time support staff as they are appointed.
The club's 25 contracted Storm NYC players will be based on the Sunshine Coast with an additional 10 pre-season trial positions available.
From 2016, Storm NYC matches will be played at Sunshine Coast Stadium as a curtain-raiser to Queensland Cup fixtures.
Melbourne Storm CEO Dave Donaghy made the announcement with Mayor Mark Jamieson at Sunshine Coast Stadium today.
"We are excited to launch the Storm Academy. By taking Storm to a heartland area we hope to be front of mind of talented junior rugby league players as they consider potential career opportunities and destinations," Mr Donaghy said.
"A considerable amount of work has gone into this important decision and we believe the relocation of our NYC team will strengthen the development of our elite young talent while also giving the club a presence in a heartland area.
"The Storm Academy will have access to some of the best sporting facilities and coupled with our program, gives our junior players every possible chance to make it to the NRL as a Storm player in the future.
"We thank the Sunshine Coast Council for their support in ensuring the program is successful.
"The NRL has publicly talked about the review they are undertaking on their pathways program and we feel this decision puts us ahead of the rest of the competition."
Mayor Jamieson said the Storm's decision to base their Academy, including their Holden Cup squad, on the Sunshine Coast was a significant upgrade of the club's partnership with Council.
The move further strengthens Storm's relationship with a rugby league heartland where they have a history of successfully recruiting and developing Queensland players with three of the world's best players Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk all recruited as young talent from the Sunshine State.