Former Sunbury Tigers player Dean Ieremia has landed a contract with the Melbourne Storm for the upcoming NRL season.
The reigning premiers announced last week that Ieremia, who had been on a development contract with the club, had been promoted to the senior squad for this year.
The 19-year-old grew up loving both AFL and rugby league, being a Richmond and Melbourne Storm fan respectively.
Ieremia started playing rugby with the Sunbury Tigers when he was 11. It was his coach at the Tigers who recommended he trial for the Under-14 Victorian Thunderbolts side. The rest is history.
“One week after the trial I found out I made the squad at full-back,” Ieremia said.
“I developed through the system in the Under 15s, 16s, 18s and the 20s … which is when I was picked up by the Storm.”
Ieremia played for the Storm in the NRL Nines competition last year. In doing so, he became just the second born and raised Victorian to play for the club.
Ieremia said teammate and star full-back Ryan Papenhuyzen is his number one influence on the field.
“Paps is a talented player but his work ethic around the game motivates me as a young player to put my best foot forward in everything I do,” he said.
“To be honest, I’ve learned a lot from everyone in the Storm system, not only game-related things but things outside of footy – the importance of family for one.”
Ieremia scored a try in the Storm’s recent practice match against Newcastle. He will be contending with Reimis Smith, Isaac Lumelume and George Jennings for the right wing position position.
Storm general manager of football Frank Ponissi said it was very pleasing to see another Victorian junior become part of Storm’s top squad.
He said they would be looking to extend Ieremia’s contract beyond this season.
“NRL Victoria has done a great job in developing Dean through their junior grades and then into the Thunderbolts system,” Ponissi said.
“They identified him early on as a player with potential and he is starting to vindicate those predictions.
“Unfortunately he missed out on basically a year of football in 2020 but the time he spent with us in what was largely a training role throughout that season, and the continued improvement he has shown during this pre-season, has warranted this upgrade to our top 30 list.
“He will continue to work hard on his game and push for a spot in the game day 17.”
Ieremia is the 28th player signed by the Storm for their 30-man squad.
Melbourne Storms kicks off its season on Thursday at home against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.