NEW ERA, NEW IDENTITY - VICTORIA THUNDERBOLTS
NRL Victoria are pleased to launch the Victoria Thunderbolts who will play in the Queensland Rugby League U20's and U18's competitions from 2018.
The U20's Victoria Thunderbolts will play in the newly formed Hastings Deering Colts competition which replaces the National U20's (NYC) competition. This competition will be played over 20 rounds with a 15 team competition which includes 13 Intrust Super Cup clubs and the Western Mustangs.
The U18's Victoria Thunderbolts will continue to play in the QLD Mal Meninga Cup competition which will be played over 7 rounds in March and April.
Home games will be played at NRL Victoria junior club venues as well as Gosch's Paddock. The U20's will also play some Curtain Raisers on AAMI Park prior to Melbourne Storm games.
NRL Victoria Pathways & Coaching Manager, Ryan Walker said there has been a great deal of excitement so far this Pre-Season.
"Both squads have been working extremely hard and they have all bought into what we are trying to create with the Thunderbolts identity"
"We see the Victoria Thunderbolts as a transition from our NRL Victoria Development and Schoolboy squads to the Melbourne Storm, we want young Victorian players to aspire to play for the Victoria Thunderbolts as a stepping stone to making the Melbourne Storm"
The U20's Thunderbolts will be coached by Ben Jack while the U18's will be coached by Janan Billings and Tony Adam.
Eric Smith, who coached the Storm NYC side for the past two years, will assume the role of Melbourne Storm Pathways Coach in Melbourne.
Part of his role will be to oversee the Storm academy programs as well as work to with the Victorian Under-20s.
“We are excited that the Thunderbolts legacy will live on right here in Victoria,” Smith said.
“The revamped development program will provide a pathway for Victorian kids from the Under-18s and Under-20s to NRL level.
“The Victorian Thunderbolts will be based on the same standards and values that have always guided the Melbourne Storm. This will allow local kids to clearly see a path to realise their dreams of reaching the elite level.”
Both squads finished their first 5 weeks of Pre-Season training last night before recommencing training the week of the 8th January.
Round 1 of both competitions will be played on Saturday 10th March.