State of Origin front-rower Christian Welch heads a list of three NRL squad signings locked in today by Melbourne Storm.
A member of the club’s Future Leaders group, Welch has extended his contract until at least the end of the 2022 season, while Max King has signed on for 2021 and newcomer Jake Howarth until the end of 2022.
Welch has been part of Storm since joining the club’s under-20s squad in 2013.
He made his NRL debut in 2015, played in the 2016 and 2018 NRL grand finals and reached a major career goal last season when he earned his first Queensland State of Origin jersey in Game 3 against NSW.
The front-rower has now made 94 NRL appearances for Melbourne, including the last 13 in a row in the starting pack as Storm qualified for the finals for a 10th consecutive year and a sixth consecutive preliminary final.
Storm general manager – football Frank Ponissi said the 26-year-old had developed into a key member of Melbourne’s forward ranks.
“Christian is having an outstanding 2020 to back up earning his first jersey for the Maroons last year,” Ponissi said.
“What we like a lot about Christian is the leadership skills that he possesses on and off the field and the dedication he puts into improving his game.
He’s entering the prime of his career as an NRL front-rower and we’re delighted to have him at our club through to the end of 2022.Frank Ponissi On Christian Welch
Max King recently reach the 50 NRL games milestone, including 12 for Melbourne after joining midway through last season.
The forward has played six matches in an injury-interrupted 2020 and will play his sixth season in the NRL in 2021.
“There is definitely many more NRL matches in Max’s future,” Ponissi said.
“I’m sure he’s looking forward to getting in a full pre-season and making the most of 2021.”
Meanwhile, Jack Howarth will join Storm’s full-time squad for the first time at the start of pre-season.
From Storm feeder club Easts Tigers, Howarth played for the Australian Schoolboys and Queensland under-18s in 2019.
He will complete year 12 at Brisbane Boys College this year before relocating to Melbourne.