Thunder talks a positive step

ALBURY Thunder’s push to join forces with Melbourne Storm in the NSW Cup gained further momentum yesterday during a 90-minute meeting in Melbourne.

Officials from both camps described the discussions as positive with the Thunder to submit a detailed proposal to the NRL club within the next three weeks.

Thunder president Rick O’Connell said last night he was delighted with the response from Storm coach Craig Bellamy and powerbrokers Ron Gauci, Frank Ponissi and Greg Brentnall.

“It was very positive,” O’Connell said.

“In principle, the Storm think the idea has significant merit and they have asked to us to come back to them with a formulated, detailed proposal that they can run over.

“We have smiles on our faces.

“We believe it will happen, but when is the issue.

“There are a lot of boxes that have to be ticked in a number of places.”

Only hours after more than 50 people turned out for Albury Thunder’s community meeting at Greenfield Park on Wednesday night, O’Connell and Mike Eden put forward their case to the NRL club.

Country Rugby League operations manager Bert Lowrie has also backed the proposal in principle.

Eden said the Thunder would now seek approval from Group 9 and Group 20 and start work on a detailed budget and proposal for Melbourne Storm.

“We are very keen to make it happen,” Eden said.

“Craig Bellamy would prefer it to happen next year, while the business people Greg Brentnall and Frank Ponissi say may be we get our ducks in a row first and go for 2014.

“We have to get Group 9 and Group 20 approval in principle and go through the right channels.

“I don’t think today’s meeting could have gone any better.

“We will be knocking on doors and businesses who want to became involved straight away.”

Although Brentnall said he was unsure if the proposal could get off the ground for next season, he said Albury’s plan had merit and deserve a thorough investigation.

“Obviously it was good to get Albury’s thoughts out in front of our footy department,” Brentnall said.

“We have a few issues we want to discuss and they will get back to us.

“It was a very positive meeting on both sides.”

Rick O'Connell

Rick O'Connell