Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has thrown his support behind Melbourne's NRL finals campaign after meeting and addressing the Storm side ahead of tonight's grand final qualifier against the Broncos at AAMI Park.
The world's greatest rugby player exchanged notes with his league equivalent, with McCaw spending time with Storm, Queensland and Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith, widely considered the best player in the history of the 13-man game.
The two-time Rugby World Cup winner attended the Storm's captain's run and addressed the Craig Bellamy coached side before enjoying lunch with the minor premiers.
The 36-year-old former flanker played a world record 148 tests for New Zealand throughout a glittering 11-year career, while Smith recently played his 356th NRL game in the Storm's qualifying final win over Parramatta, to surpasses former Brisbane and Australian captain Darren Lockyer's record. The 34-year-old hooker has also played a record 42 State of Origin matches for the Maroons and will add to his 50 tests for Australia when he leads the Kangaroos at the upcoming Rugby League World Cup in November.
A photo of the McCaw and Smith together was shared on the Storm's social media channels, with the club tweeting: "Legendary: An absolute honour to have former @AllBlacks Captain Richie McCaw at Storm HQ today! #BringTheThunder #NRLFinals"
McCaw's visit continues a long association between the All Blacks and Storm, which began back in 2010 when Bellamy and Storm Football Director Frank Ponissi attended an Auckland training camp.
The pair spent a week with the All Blacks in Chicago ahead of their historic defeat to Ireland in 2015, before All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith was a guest of the Storm at the 2016 NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park.
All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith last year paid a visit to Storm headquarters to observe the side's pre-season preparations, and spoke about the mutual respect that exists between the two teams and the benefits of sharing playing and training theories and ideologies.
"The All Blacks have a pretty close relationship with Melbourne Storm," Smith told Storm TV.
"There's a lot of synergy...there is a lot of cross code stuff that can be shared without worrying too much about competition.
"It's a safe environment, it's a good place to share ideas and I think it benefits both of us."