The Melbourne Storm has confirmed the extension of its partnership with the Sunshine Coast Falcons as its NRL feeder club until the end of the 2024 season.

The club will also establish the Tornados Academy to provide a new pathway for talented rugby league players into the Storm system.

It has also committed to return to the Coast for the next three years for training, preparation or promotional opportunities.

Storm CEO Justin Rodski said the initiatives would provide greater opportunities for local rugby league players to play NRL, and showed a long-term commitment by the club to its members, fans and commercial partners in the region.

“The Sunshine Coast has become a second home for us in the last few years,” Mr Rodski said. “We always feel very welcome here and we have some valuable partnerships in place with the community and commercial sector.”

Storm general manager football Frank Ponissi said the development of players in the region had been important to the club’s recent successes.

“The Falcons have been the perfect fit for our players who aren’t playing first grade, giving them the chance to develop their craft against some quality opposition in the Intrust Super Cup with quality coaching,” he said.

“To have our partnership with the Falcons confirmed until the end of 2024 means we can plan with certainty, knowing our young, talented players have a pathway to playing first grade in addition to playing with our other feeder club, Brisbane Tigers.

“The Storm have been together with the Sunshine Coast Falcons since the 2015 season and during this time a number of Falcons players such as Nicho Hynes, Tui Kamikamica, Ryley Jacks and Chris Lewis have been recruited directly from the Falcons team to the Storm.

“There is also a host of young players recruited to Storm such as Harry Grant, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Justin Olam, Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith who have been allocated to the Falcons in the Intrust Super Cup before embarking on successful NRL careers.”

The Tornados Squad will be overseen by former Storm premiership player and Queensland State of Origin representative Tim Glasby, who is now Storm pathways manager.

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