Matt Duffie to depart Storm
Melbourne's feeling of euphoria after knocking over the Roosters on Friday night has taken a hit with the club announcing winger Matt Duffie will depart at season's end.
Duffie informed teammates on Saturday he had signed a two-year deal with Super Rugby side the Auckland Blues.
Duffie made his NRL return against the Dragons in Round 20 this year after an 847 day absence following multiple shoulder and knee reconstructions and has since played eight games, scoring four tries.
Melbourne had high hopes of retaining the out-of-contract winger who in recent weeks had finally looked to have recaptured his trademark athleticism that saw him score 30 tries in his first 50 NRL games.
However after 61 appearances for the Storm Duffie said it was the right time to move on and return to rugby, which he played as a schoolboy.
"I am looking for a new challenge and it was the right time to come back to rugby," Duffie said.
"I will dearly miss everyone involved with Melbourne Storm - the players, the fans and everyone within the club who helps magic happen each week.
"To have been a part of the Storm culture for seven years means I am already the luckiest kid in the street."
Storm football director Frank Ponissi expressed the club's obvious disappointment.
"We are disappointed to see Matt leave, he was in our plans for the future, however we totally understand and fully respect the personal decision he has made," Ponissi said.
"Matt has worked extremely hard to make his return to football and it's been fantastic to see him back out on the field doing well these last eight weeks, it's been one of, if not the best, feel good story of the year.
"He is a much liked member of our club by players, staff and members and we wish him all the very best for his move in 2016."