Melbourne will make a return to Albury after their NRL trial against Newcastle had to be moved out of Victoria due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Knights told the Storm on Thursday they did not want to travel into Victoria for next Saturday’s trial, given concerns over COVID-19 in the state.
Chief among concerns for NRL clubs is the fear that if borders are closed and hotspot dates backdated, it could present some concern for season preparations.
The eventual premiers trained in Albury coming out of last year’s mid-season lockdown, when the local AFL club opened the doors for them at the last minute.
They had previously been locked out of facilities at council grounds, after crossing the border from Victoria in a bid to resume training in May.
At the time fans in Albury had been unable to watch training or see players due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s obviously disappointing the Knights have decided not to travel to Melbourne for this trial – for our members fans and for our players,” Storm chief executive Justin Rodski said.
“Our fans haven’t had the chance to see their team play live for over 12 months and we were looking forward to having another great crowd attend Casey Fields.
“The change also gives us the opportunity to say thanks to the people of Albury after they supported us through the early part of the 2020 season.”
The Storm stressed the move did not put the season-opener against South Sydney at AAMI Park in doubt, which shapes as their first game in front of home fans since 2019.