Cameron Smith passes the ball during a Melbourne Storm NRL training session at Sunshine Coast Stadium on July 07, 2020 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Cameron Smith passes the ball during a Melbourne Storm NRL training session at Sunshine Coast Stadium on July 07, 2020 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Smith eager to make most of Coast home ground

Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith says he’s eager to not just entertain Sunshine Coast crowds but make the most of a new home ground advantage in coming weeks.

The NRL heavyweights announced on Wednesday that they locked in home games against Gold Coast Titans, Newcastle Knights and Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

The team has been in the region for the past 10 days, settling in to Novotel Resort at Twin Waters in a bid to avoid a worrying spike of COVID-19 cases in Victoria.

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Smith said hosting the games on the Coast would provide plenty of advantages with the playing group growing accustomed to the facilities and a bevy of players already having connections with the Sunshine Coast Falcons.

“I think the advantage for us is that we’re training here every day and the facilities and surface is A-grade quality and as good as you’ll find anywhere in the country at any national rugby league stadium,” he said.

“We get to train on that field and in those conditions every day and it’s a place that we really enjoy being part of and being around.

“We’re really looking forward to playing at this ground, it’s a familiar place for a number of players playing in our feeder team (Falcons) and although Suncorp is a special rugby league venue, this is a pretty good ground in itself too.”

The Sunshine Coast Stadium will be Melbourne Storm’s “home away from home”.
The Sunshine Coast Stadium will be Melbourne Storm’s “home away from home”.

Smith expected fans would relish the chance to watch top level NRL fixtures on the Coast.

“I had the opportunity quite some time ago to be based on the Sunshine Coast with the Queensland State of Origin side and there is a huge interest in rugby league particularly at junior level,” he said.

“I think it’s a great initiative for the community and it’s not often that the Sunshine Coast Region gets to see NRL players up close and personal.

“When we get the opportunity to play here at Sunshine Coast Stadium as our home we want to go out and make sure we entertain all the fans.”

Although the Coast is their temporary home, Smith said the Storm hadn’t forgotten about their loyal Victorian supporters.

“It’s challenging, because I’ve heard a lot of comments over the last week and half about our organisation and team being relocated to the Sunshine Coast at this time of year and I can guarantee you it’s a really nice place to be in winter,” Smith said.

“But, our home is in Melbourne and we haven’t forgotten that – there are still some of our families and loved ones back there.”

SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Cameron Smith passes the ball during a Melbourne Storm NRL training session at Sunshine Coast Stadium on July 07, 2020 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Cameron Smith passes the ball during a Melbourne Storm NRL training session at Sunshine Coast Stadium on July 07, 2020 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

A COVID Safe plan has been approved by the Queensland Government and includes authority for a seating capacity of 6000 at the Stadium for each of the games.

The Titans will lace up against the Storm at Sunshine Coast Stadium on July 17, with the Knights and Bulldogs hitting the field on August 2 and August 8.

Melbourne Storm and Sunshine Coast Lightning members can grab their tickets for the Titans game on Friday, July 17, at midday Thursday, July 9 and are encouraged to get in quick as tickets are limited. Public tickets are on sale from 1pm.