Vantange Homes 13DEC16
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Nicho Hynes signs with Melbourne Storm

When Nicho Hynes signed with the Vantage Homes Sunshine Coast Falcons at the end of 2018, he never expected to be leaving the club just nine rounds into the 2019 Intrust Super Cup season.

That is exactly what happened this week when the talented 22-year-old signed his maiden professional rugby league contract with NRL powerhouse Melbourne Storm, commencing immediately.

Contracted to a two-year deal (2019 and 2020), Nicho made his way south yesterday following the Falcons’ round nine demolition of Souths Logan Magpies.

“Signing my first NRL contract is a dream come true. Such a surreal feeling for me and my family at the moment. It’s something I’ve been working towards for a fair few years now and to finally do it just feels so exciting and I can’t wait to get down there.”

The former Central Coast junior was first put on Melbourne’s radar when he joined them during pre-season.

“For the six weeks I was down there, being a part of the club was unreal. They have such a great culture… They treat you the same as all the players there even though we were only there for six weeks. We felt like we were apart of the coclub.”

The Storm coaching staff were so impressed with the new Falcons’ efforts that they invited him back to train with the NRL squad for a further two weeks after his official engagement had finished.

Falcons coach Eric Smith recalls the conversation, “They needed an extra body down there in the halves for opposed and Nicho had impressed them during his stint down there.”

“They liked how hard he worked and the skill set he possesses. Most of all Craig was impressed by the way he always took on board the feedback given to him and the effort he put in to working on that feedback.”

The Storm staff weren’t the only ones enthralled with the rising star.

Smith has been widely documented raving about the young half and his uncapped potential.

“He’s a great player. He has great instinct and is an attacking player. He has a good physique for a half and isn’t scared to run at the line, which he loves to do. He can play to structure but can also adapt and break down the opposition.”

Smith and Falcons CEO Chris Flannery never had any doubt Hynes would wind up in an NRL system. They are just glad they were able to assist Nicho on the pathway to his achieving his dreams.

“We first noticed him playing in the halves for Mackay against Norths in a TV game last year. Our chairman, Ash Robinson, called me and asked if I was watching and what I thought of him. We liked what we saw and from then on we kept tabs on him for the rest of the season,” Flannery recalled.

“He was the size of a back-rower but had all the skills of a half, could kick in general play and goal-kick and had enough speed to play fullback so it was a no brainer really.”

Hynes isn’t the first Vantage Homes Falcon to reap the rewards of club’s partnership with the Melbourne Storm.

In 2016 former Falcons’ Ryley Jacks and Tui Kamikamica were also offered their first NRL contracts with the Storm in a similar fashion, after having been Falcon’s contracted players that season.

“It’s always a good feeling when one of our players signs a full-time contract with the Storm. We pride ourselves on providing a professional environment, professional coaching and the opportunity for our players to progress to the NRL if they are good enough.”

“Of course we would love to win the Intrust Super Cup grand final every year but to be honest developing players for the NRL is what we are here to do.”

Without the assistance of a leagues club the Falcons struggle to match it financially with the wealthier clubs so rather than offer big cash deals they offer an opportunity to progress to the next level – which no amount of money can buy!

“Seeing players that signed at the Falcons for a lot less than what they could have got at other clubs, and then get noticed and signed by the Storm is a great feeling. It does make our signings sign for the right reasons.”

The club’s relationship with the Melbourne Storm wasn’t the only enticing factor for Hynes.

“Melbourne aside, I’ve heard a lot good things about club and Flanno as a CEO. He really puts the players first and he’s obviously had a great career in the NRL so he knows what it’s like to be a rugby league player,” Nicho recalls.

“They (Flannery and Smith) were telling me they recruit a lot of good players… You have Dane Hogan who’s been the captain here for a few years and he’s played NRL and he’s been a great leader and a good player in the QCup (Intrust Super Cup).”

“Then we’ll also get Todd Murphy. I’ve versed him in the past couple of years in the Cup and he was a good player so I wanted to see how I went playing alongside those boys.”

“Eric spoke to me as well and he’s been down in the system and getting to be coached by him I thought would have helped my game… Coming back onto the Sunshine Coast and getting back onto the beach and back into the surfing as well, it ended up being an easy decision (to come to the Falcons). At first it wasn’t but I’m glad I’ve done it.”

Hynes isn’t the first Vantage Homes Falcon to reap the rewards of their partnership with the Melbourne Storm.

In 2016 former Falcons Ryley Jacks and Tui Kamikamica were also offered their first NRL contracts with the Storm in a similar fashion.

However there is a real buzz surrounding Hynes due to his ability to play almost anywhere on the park.

“We all know Nicho can play in the halves, full-back, and even in the centres, we’ve seen him do it the last nine rounds. But for Melbourne I’d say they’ll use him in the halves and at fullback short-term, and probably look at him as a five-eight long-term,” Smith elaborated.

Although extremely excited about his opportunity with the Storm, leaving the Falcons is bittersweet for Nicho.

“Yeah it’s definitely bittersweet to be leaving the Falcons so soon after signing. It’s an unreal set up here, the boys are great, the staff are great, the Coast itself is amazing. It’s been really cool getting to live and play footy in a place like this.”

“I’ve really enjoyed myself the entire time I’ve been here. All the boys have come together really well and it’s a bit cliché but we all rip in for each other and you can’t ask for much more than that.”

In good news for Falcons fans, Hynes will remain affiliated with the black and gold for the remainder of the 2019 Intrust Super Cup season.

Nicho will join the likes of Harry Grant, Joe Stimson, Sandor Earl, Cooper Johns and Justin Olam who travel most weeks from Melbourne to play with the Sunshine Coast-based outfit.

The Falcons’ will have a bye this weekend due to representative round, and will continue their season on Sunday May 19 when they take on the Townsville Blackhawks at Jack Manski Oval.