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Bears and Storm deal for The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup

North Sydney Bears players will soon have a new pathway into the NRL with the club signing a two-year deal with Melbourne Storm to act as its feeder team for The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup.

The Bears’ four-year contract with the Sydney Roosters expires at the end of the 2023 season, with the Storm deal starting on 1 November in time for the 2024 pre-season.

“Knowing what Storm brings to Rugby League in terms of professionalism is where I wanted the Bears to head to,” North Sydney CEO Gareth Holmes said.

“When the Roosters let us know late last year that they wouldn’t be continuing past 2023, Storm Football Manager Frank Ponissi was my first phone call as I had a firm friendship with him.

“I knew they had the two feeder clubs in Queensland (Brisbane Easts, Sunshine Coast Falcons) but what excited me is that the Storm said they wanted to align with such a strong brand as the Bears.”

It is not just The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup that can benefit from the link with the Storm.

Chief Executive Justin Rodski, who was at North Sydney Oval on Wednesday to make the announcement, said the Storm was in the process of establishing a full women’s pathway.

“And as part of that there will be a goal of entering a NRLW team in the not-too-distant future,” Rodski said.

“But in the meantime, we’re investing heavily in pathways for females in Victoria. As part of that we want teams to come up and play in NSW’s women’s competitions with the Bears.”

North Sydney was Minor Premiers in 2021 and 2022 in Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership. They finished ninth in the Under 19s Tarsha Gale Cup this year.

The Storm had teams in NSWRL’s Junior Reps competitions, UNE SG Ball Under 19s and Jersey Flegg Under 21s.

“We’ll announce shortly that we’ll also have a Harold Matthews team from 2024 onwards,” Rodski said.

“There is clearly now a strong pathway and with this feeder arrangement at NSW Cup level, this is the next vital step. Kids in NSW can now see that the North Sydney Bears can be a pathway down to the Melbourne Storm.

“We’ll have a group of NSW players come down to our famous Storm pre-season camp in Geelong.”

Bears coach Jason Taylor said it was vital for youngsters to see a pathway to the NRL.

“That’s what we all aspire to when we’re young; it’s been there for Norths juniors over the last couple of years so it’s disappointing to see that end with the Roosters,” Taylor said.

“But this is a great replacement with Storm. It continues the opportunity for players in the North Sydney district to know they will be watched and noticed and have the pathway to the NRL if they’re good enough.

“We haven’t seen Storm players in The Knock-on Effect NSW Cup for a long time now so it’s great to rekindle that link between the Storm and the Bears.

“There’s NSW players down at Storm who can now come and play at the famous North Sydney Oval and have their family and friends come to watch. There are a lot of positives.”

Photo: Courtesy of Melbourne Storm

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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