Storm may spark wave of recruits for Falcons
THE Sunshine Coast Falcons say they are hoping to have a feeder deal with the Melbourne Storm in place by next year.
The club on the weekend began a "trial" player exchange with the NRL club which the Falcons hope will escalate in 2015.
Three Melbourne Storm under-20s players - prop John Filipo, centre and former Queensland under-18 representative Ellery Tusa and fullback Max Fesolai - took the field for the Falcons in their 38-0 loss to the Norths Devils last Sunday. The two clubs will road test the exchange for the next four to six weeks and could keep it in place until the end of the season if it is mutually beneficial.
The trio is part of the Storm's Holden Cup squad but did not make the final side for the weekend's game. All flew up to the Coast on Saturday morning and took part in the Falcons' final training run.
Flannery said the Melbourne players were three of the Falcons best against the Devils, despite being just 18 and having a limited preparation. The Storm currently send their unneeded first grade players to Intrust Super Cup side the Easts Tigers and NSW Cup team the Cronulla Sharks.
Falcons CEO Chris Flannery said he hoped that by next year their relationship could evolve to involve the exchange of senior players.
"We're still assessing the viability of the arrangement," he said.
"The Melbourne guys will hopefully help out, they're good players. They were some of our best players on the weekend.
"You could tell they're in the NRL system. They're just 18 but they're strong and still growing and we'll just assess how it all goes for the next four-to-six weeks."
The Falcons look set for another difficult season after losing their first four matches and conceding 36 points or more in each game.
Without a leagues club, which injects valuable income into the club, or an NRL affiliation, they will continue to flounder at the bottom of the Intrust Super Cup ladder. The irony is that many Intrust Super Cup clubs with feeder deals complain that they are sent too many players by their partner clubs.
Some clubs only want three or four fringe players from their NRL affiliates and are upset that team harmony is being disrupted when they receive more. Yet the Falcons cannot strike up a feeder relationship with any Queensland or NSW club. While a few top-line players would not be a remedy for all the Falcons' woes, it would go a long way to righting the ship.
"We haven't got a leagues club or an NRL affiliation and until we get either or both, you're not going to see us competing," Flannery said.
"We might jag a win here and there but we won't be competitive on the playing field."