Rugby League


Far from flying, Finch overjoyed on return trip

BRETT FINCH didn't mind bringing up the rear at his first training session back with Melbourne because it gave him a chance to learn some of his NRL teammates' names written on their backs.

The popular 31-year-old looked in good shape in his return to the Storm after a two-year absence, which he spent playing for Wigan in the British Super League.

Finch was forced out of the Storm in the wake of the salary cap cheating scandal, and there have been more than a dozen players turned over since then.

Recently other players have switched codes or taken up boxing for the big bucks, but Finch has turned his back on around $400,000 to play with Melbourne again. And he is not even guaranteed a start.

Coach Craig Bellamy has signed him on a one-year deal as a back-up to Cooper Cronk and Gareth Widdop.

''I'm just happy to be a part of the squad and back in the club,'' Finch said, who was previously at the club for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.


''Hopefully I can contribute through the season; we'll just see how it all pans out.''

During his two-year stint in England, Finch won a Challenge Cup final and finished one game shy of this year's grand final after being minor premiers.

With quality halves in demand, Finch could have played at another NRL club but said he would have remained in England if he didn't re-sign with Melbourne.

''Career-wise there was better opportunities in terms of the financial situation but I just wanted to be back and part of the club,'' he said.

Finch said it was atmosphere and culture that drew him back to the NRL champions. ''You hear the word culture bandied around a lot … it's just a great club to be involved in and I really enjoy living here,'' he said.

''The success the club has had for so many years explains why players love playing with the club.''

Finch said he would consider playing the 2014 season if still wanted by the Storm, or even take on another role with the club such as coaching.

''I would like to be involved with the Melbourne Storm for as long as possible, whether that's as a player or working with the club,'' he said.

While Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cronk won't return until the new year, Ryan Hoffman and Jason Ryles were back on the paddock on Monday. Ryles trained as he attempts to come back from his latest hamstring injury.