Coronavirus: 'Ill-informed' and 'short-sighted' – Storm CEO responds to Albury rejection

By Sports Desk May 05, 2020

Melbourne Storm chief executive Dave Donaghy said some councillors may have been "ill-informed" and "short-sighted" after a shock decision to ban the NRL side from using their preferred ground in Albury.

The Storm announced on Monday that they were relocating to the New South Wales border town of Albury, with the coronavirus-hit NRL season set to return on May 28.

COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria had forced the Storm to travel outside of the state after the 2020 campaign was postponed through just two rounds on March 23.

But the Storm's plans hit a hurdle following Tuesday's extraordinary meeting in Albury, preventing Melbourne from using the council-managed facility, and Donaghy responded to the rejection.

"I was there on Monday or Tuesday and the reception I received from the locals, whether it was Steve at the quality hotel resort where the team is being based at or the couple of young ladies that own the gym, it’s been nothing but everyone receiving us with open arms," Donaghy told SEN on Wednesday as the Storm officially returned to training.

"I became aware a couple of months ago that there was some agitation from some of the councillors. I wasn't quite sure. Perhaps they were ill-informed around some of our protocols at that point.

"This isn't a joke, we certainly understand the health issues we're all facing. We're certainly not taking it as a joke. If anyone has seen our social media channels and website, you actually see the protocols and process our players go through. They went through that after arriving in camp last night. Very thorough.

"Affectively, they will be in Albury but for the first time ever, we will be asking people to stay from us. They won't be mingling with the public. They'll be heading in from their hotel to the gym and field. Albury Tigers will be where we train, it's not a council-run facility."

"From our end, we reached out in early April, April 11 I believe. It's early May now. The conversation has been going on for a while," he added.

"Whether they were just ill-informed around protocols or just a short-sighted opportunistic view by a few that if you're looking long term, we can't stay in lockdown forever. At some point we're all going to come out of this in a safe, healthy way.

"We are following all the rules, whether it is the New South Wales or federal government… We're very disappointed around this as anyone. But the Albury Tigers have stepped up. The field the guys will be on, it's arguably a better surface. I'm told its one of the best surfaces in NSW. It's an AFL field, but it's marked out like a rugby league field. The posts are up. So, they will be ready to go and it will feel like home."

"It's a week to week proposition," Donaghy continued. "We want to get back to Melbourne. We want to get back to our own homes and train at AAMI Park."

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