Storm officials have praised their players for returning to Victoria earlier than required to avoid being forced into quarantine for the start of pre-season training.
Nine Melbourne Storm players, including Clive Churchill Medallist Ryan Papenhuyzen, made the mercy dash across the border as the latest COVID-19 outbreak on the northern beaches led to club officials to reach out to their Sydney-based players on Sunday.
All nine players made it back by the official cut-off for NSW travellers with the premiers to commence training on January 4.
The club’s prime motive was for their players not to be forced into quarantine for two weeks in a hotel.
Papenhuyzen’s Big Game
Some of the Storm players will now spend Christmas without family and loved ones after spending 127 days away from their families during the 2020 season.
New recruits Reimis Smith and George Jennings were praised by Storm football manager Frank Ponissi for committing to their move to Melbourne earlier than planned.
“Our boys have been tremendous, the decision [with the borders] was made at midday, then they all got on planes or drove down over the border before midnight,” Storm football manager Ponissi told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“‘Paps’ was among them, but the two I want to make special mention of is Reimis and George because those two were not due here until early January, but in the space of a few hours made a decision to pack and get down here without knowing anyone here.
Bellamy says current Melbourne side not as talented as previous teams
“They’ll now spend Christmas without family.
“We couldn’t force any of the boys to come back early from holidays, it was an individual decision. As a club all we could do was present all the facts about what would happen if they couldn’t get back here before midnight last night. We were also mindful Christmas was this week. So we’re in awe of all of them with how they were able to make such a big decision so quickly.”
Canterbury bound winger Josh Addo-Carr was not due to resume training until the end of next month and will remain in Sydney, while coach Craig Bellamy has remained in Queensland.
Victoria does not require those flying in from the Sunshine State to quarantine so the legendary coach has opted to stay put.