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Hoffman to return to Storm in 2012

14/07/2011 02:10:59 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne have reacted swiftly to Adam Blair's imminent departure, with former Test back rower Ryan Hoffman to return to his old NRL club next season on a new three-year deal.

Hoffman, 27, will complete his obligations with the Wigan Warriors in the English Super League before returning to the side he joined as an 18-year-old in 2003.

The opportunity for Hoffman to return became a possibility when Blair's move to Wests Tigers was confirmed.

The back-rower made his NRL debut against Manly in round 6 2003, the same year coach Craig Bellamy took charge of the Storm.

Melbourne offloaded him soon after the NRL discovered the club was breaching the salary cap.

Hoffman continues to enjoy an impressive career having played 23 matches this season for Wigan, following his 170 Storm matches, five State of Origin clashes for NSW and four Test appearances.

The decision was a difficult one for Hoffman, who has become an integral part of Wigan, both on and off the field.

"I'm really excited the opportunity has presented itself for me to re-join Storm, having started my career there and sharing so many wonderful memories and friendships," Hoffman said.

"This year with Wigan has been outstanding. The club and fans have been great, and they have made me and my wife Mel very welcome.

"When I left Storm, the hardest part of the decision was leaving the only professional rugby league club I have ever played for, but Blairy moving on has created an opportunity for me to return to where it started.

"I have a burning desire to be a 10 year Storm player, joining Matt Geyer, Cameron Smith and by next year Billy Slater in the 200 games club."

Bellamy is equally delighted Hoffman will be back in Melbourne for the 2012 season.

"We all know the positive attributes he brings to our club, his professionalism and dedication is unquestionable," Bellamy said.

"I actually played footy with Ryan's father Jay, so I have known him since he was a kid. We have grown together over the years, me as a coach and Ryan as a footballer, enjoying plenty of highlights through club and representative football.

"Hoffy is a traditionalist and I'm sure that had a lot to do with why he joined Wigan in the first place, I know he will be hell bent on finishing off on the right note before he returns to Australia."

The Storm have also signed experienced front-rower Jack Afamasaga for the remainder of the 2011 season.

The 27-year-old former Parramatta, Manly and Cronulla player, joins the Storm after a recent stint with French rugby league side Racing Club Lescure Arthes XIII.

Storm general manager of football operations Frank Ponissi admitted the signing of Afamasaga was unexpected.

"Jack literally knocked on our door looking for an opportunity after moving to Geelong to live with his partners' family," he said.

Ironically the prop was a member of the Manly 2007 grand final team that was beaten by the Storm, who were later stripped of the NRL title because of salary cap rorting.

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