We know, we know; Melbourne is considered an Aussie Rules town. But, believe it or not, many in Victoria’s capital enjoy the game championed by their northern cousins - namely, rugby league.

It’s a good thing too, as the local team is arguably one of the finest in the tournament. In the sixteen years since the Melbourne Storm first joined the NRL, the team has been a member of the top eight all but twice.

Superstar fullback Billy Slater, who has played his whole NRL career with the Storm, gives full credit to the people who first set up the team. “I think that the guys in the inaugural team of the Melbourne Storm did a great job,” he said. “The whole attitude of getting out there and spreading the Melbourne Storm word in Victoria was certainly a passionate thing for the guys early on.”

Billy admits that Victoria probably wasn’t the easiest place to set up a team. “Melbourne would have to be the hardest city in which to get a rugby league team up and running,” he said. “They didn’t get the assistance that some of the new AFL teams get in terms of concessions and players, they had to build it themselves. But credit to the guys that started the club, and the players that were involved in the early days, the club’s in a really strong position now.”

Hooker Ryan Hinchcliffe has seen the team develop and change since he joined the team in 2009. “I think it's grown and grown to be honest with you,” he said. “From the outside looking in when I first come it was always viewed as a club with a really strong culture that played a really tough, uncompromising style of football and had a really red hot side.”

To his mind, the culture of the club has been consistent throughout his tenure. “We’ve always been very competitive and I think that comes back to our culture and the hard work that we put in,” Ryan said. “The supporter base has grown. I think we're still a very well respected club in the community.”

And while that supporter base has indeed grown, Billy believes that he, and the next generation of players still have a responsibility to promote the game in Melbourne. “It’s important that we keep pushing the whole of rugby league in Victoria,” he said.