Melbourne Storm will play its next three “home” games on the Sunshine Coast as players prepare to be holed up in their resort accommodation for a “long time”.
Storm relocated to the Sunshine Coast as the COVID-19 crisis escalated in Melbourne. The latest six-week lockdown, which comes into force on Wednesday, makes their return unlikely before the end of August.
The Sunshine Coast Stadium has become the club’s new training base, and the Storm has been successful in lobbying to use the ground for three games beginning with the Round 10 clash against the Titans.
Melbourne will also play Newcastle in Round 12 and the Bulldogs in Round 13, saving them the 200km round trip on a bus travelling to and from Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
A stadium capacity of 6000 has been set for at least the initial match under the Queensland Government’s current legislation on stadium events, and it will operate in conjunction with a COVID-Safe Plan.
“The squad has transitioned extremely well to the coast and they’re very much looking forward to making Sunshine Coast Stadium home for our next three allocated home matches,” Storm CEO Dave Donaghy said.
“It’s a first-class regional facility, which is a credit to the Sunshine Coast.
“While we have played trial games here in the past, these will be our first official NRL games at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
“They will be three big events to get along to and we look forward to seeing the Purple Army in big numbers.
We might be based on the Sunny Coast for now but Melbourne will always be home.
We are grateful to be able to continue to work while our fellow Melburnians face another lockdown. Sending all our love to our home state. Look after each other 💜
Forever your Melbourne Storm.
The Sunshine Coast Stadium where the Melbourne Storm will play three NRL matches.Source:News Regional Media
Last week Storm coach Craig Bellamy gave his support to playing games at their home-away-from-home to save travel time.
“If we are going to be here for a whole heap of time we would love to play all our games here if we can because it’s not as much travel as going to Suncorp,” Bellamy said at the time.
Several Storm staff members have even begun using offices at the Sunshine Coast Stadium, including recruiting officers.
The NRL has told Melbourne no one can return to Victoria until 28 days after COVID-19 numbers subside.
Storm has 55 players and staff in the “bubble” at the Twin Waters resort and more than 20 partners and 30 children living at the hub.
A second wave of partners and children are in Mooloolaba completing a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
Melbourne forward Christian Welch said everyone had begun to come to terms with a long stay in Queensland.
“I think that’s just a reality we need to consider,” he said.
“The way Victoria is sadly going, it’s not looking good. I think we are going to be here for a long, long time.
“Nothing is definite but we are getting our head around putting some roots down here for a long time.”
Welch said a few thousand people at the Sunshine Coast Stadium, which has a capacity of 12,000, would “feel like a packed ground”.
A decision on the venue for Storm’s remaining 2020 home matches will be made at a later date, with the hope that AAMI Park will again become an option.
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