Melbourne have signed NRL premiership winner Ricky Leutele for the remainder of the 2020 season after he was granted an exemption by the league to hold two contracts.
The 30-year-old centre was left stranded in the UK after the withdrawal of Toronto from the Super League competition, and the Storm jumped through hoops to secure his signature.
Leutele's plan to join the Storm for the remainder of the season was originally knocked back by the NRL, but they have since reconsidered.
When a path was cleared for the Sydney Roosters to sign superstar Sonny Bill Williams, an exemption was then granted for Leutele to join the Storm for the rest of the season.
Leutele and his family will enter a mandatory two-week quarantine before joining the Melbourne camp on the Sunshine Coast, filling the final spot on their 30-man roster.
Ironically, Leutele has a long history of rivalry with the Storm.
He was part of the Cronulla side that defeated Melbourne 14-12 for the 2016 NRL premiership and his final match in the competition was against Storm in the 2018 preliminary finals.
Injuries to Paul Momirovski, Marion Seve and Brenko Lee have stretched Melbourne's depth in the backline, but Leutele will be a huge boost to the side.
The Samoan international played 129 NRL games for the Sharks, as well as 27 matches for the Wolfpack.
Melbourne assistant Jason Ryles gave no guarantees Leutele would get a start and said it would be a challenge to join the club mid-season.
But they were excited to add an experienced player to their ranks and would help him maintain his fitness while in quarantine.
"He's a quality player and from all reports he's a really hard worker and a really good guy as well," Ryles said on Tuesday.
"They're all the attributes we are looking for at the Storm and also being a premiership winner, he knows what it takes to win.
"He's going to be a really good addition to our squad."
Australian Associated Press