Melbourne Storm will honour two of rugby league's all-time greats before it battles the Brisbane Broncos at Olympic Park on Saturday, Storm chief executive Brian Waldron announced today.
Waldron revealed that Storm premiership players Glenn Lazarus and Tawera Nikau would be at Olympic Park on Saturday afternoon to see the ground's Western Stand named the Glenn Lazarus Stand, and its Eastern Stand named the Tawera Nikau Stand.
Lazarus was the captain of the Storm in its foundation year, 1998, and led the club to the premiership the following season. Nikau was also a hero of the premiership win and is remembered as one of the most popular Storm players ever to grace Olympic Park.
"Glenn Lazarus and Tawera Nikau played prominent roles in this club's stunning 1999 premiership win, and helped establish the identity of the Melbourne Storm in this city," Waldron said.
"Glenn Lazarus is a legend of rugby league, our inaugural captain, and the face of the Melbourne Storm in the early years. He helped the Storm become visible in a crowded and difficult marketplace, and his contribution to this club will never be forgotten.
"Tawera Nikau was adored by the Melbourne fans and will always be remembered as one of the most popular players ever to wear the Storm jersey. He was entertaining and unrelenting in his approach to the game, and long-time Storm watchers say that he turned the game after half-time in the 1999 grand final against the Dragons."
Nikau and Lazarus, who appeared in 44 games for Melbourne, will participate in a short pre-game ceremony before the Storm (2-1) goes head-to-head with the Broncos (2-1).
Lazarus, whose brilliant 254-game career also included stints with the Broncos and the Canberra Raiders, described it as a "wonderful honour".
"I had the best time of my life down there living in the city of Melbourne, and with the club," he said. "It was exciting winning the comp in our second year and there are so many wonderful memories. It was a wonderful time. I enjoyed the role as the captain and as a player and this is something which is a real honour for me. I'm very privileged.
"That grandstand has seen a lot of wonderful times - our first game, against North Sydney, was a sell-out crowd and we didn't feel as though we could have disappointed them (the fans) - we flogged them.
"In my last game there, against Wests, we did a lap of honour and saw the faces of the fans. It's a really nice place and I always enjoy going back there, but I don't get the opportunity very often.''
Nikau, who played 53 games for the Storm between 1998 and 1999, said he was looking forward to being a part of Saturday's ceremony.
"This is fantastic. Not too many Aussie clubs name stands after a Kiwi, so to me, this is a great honour," he said. "It's a fantastic thrill. I am very humbled and very proud to accept this honour.
"I loved the Storm, and it was a fantastic experience. The club was great, quality coaching and management, the players were fantastic and, of course, the supporters were number one."
Current Storm captain Robbie Kearns played alongside both players and said it was a great tribute.
"Both players had a massive influence on the early success of the Melbourne Storm," he said. "They were both at the time veterans of the game, and it goes without saying that their presence and stature in the club helped us to win a premiership in our second year.
"Both guys were loved by our passionate fans and I am sure our loyal fans will be only too pleased to see their names on the grandstands in years to come."
Media representatives are advised that Lazarus, Nikau, Kearns and Waldron are available for interviews today. Please note the following:
? Lazarus can be contacted on 0405 152988 between 2pm and 3pm today.
? Nikau can be contacted in New Zealand on 0011 6421 478767 between 11am (AEST) and midday today.
? Waldron and Kearns can be contacted on 03 8412 4900, or through Claire Mitchell-Taverner in the Storm communications department.
Photographs of Lazarus and/or Nikau in action for the Storm are available from the Storm communications department on request.
Nikau will arrive in Melbourne on Thursday night and will be available for interviews and/or picture opportunities at the Storm office between 1-3pm on Friday, if required. Please advise by midday Thursday.
Lazarus will arrive in Melbourne on Saturday, and be available for interviews and/or picture opportunities at the game.
A more detailed indication of the running of the pre-game activity will be available on Friday.
Further information: Claire Mitchell-Taverner: 03 8412 4900 or 0404 044765Like