SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES - MAY 27: David Nofoaluma of the Tigers celebrates victory during the round 12 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on May 27, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Melbourne Storm have refused to the close the door on David Nofoaluma returning to the club in 2023 - this time, permanently.

Nofoaluma was loaned to the Storm at the back-end of the 2022 season and played finals football for the firs time in his career, admitting he enjoyed the experience of being in a winning side.

One of the most prolific try scorers in Wests Tigers' history, he has scored 95 tries in his 178 games for the club, and returned to Concord ahead of the 2023 pre-season kicking off, claiming he wanted to cement his spot in Tim Sheens' new-look side and help the club push to play in the finals.

That has lasted less than three weeks though.

Nofoaluma was hooked during the game against the Canterbury Bulldogs at Belmore on Sunday less than an hour into the fixture, with coach Sheens confirming he had not been injured. The move to bring Nofoaluma off the field allowed Adam Doueihi to play at fullback, Charlie Staines to move to the wing, and Brandon Wakeham to be injected into the game.

That is exactly how the Tigers will line up for Round 4 against the Melbourne Storm too, with Nofoaluma named in the reserves and not in the NSW Cup side for the clash either.

That could set alarm bells ringing for Nofoaluma, whose key desire is to play first-grade - something he might struggle to do if he hangs around at Concord until the end of his contract, which is slated to expire at the end of the 2025 season.

The Newcastle-born veteran winger could still be a late inclusion at NSW Cup level against the North Sydney Bears this week, but News Corp's David Riccio told Fox Sports' show NRL 360 that the Storm, while having a preference to sign another forward, haven't shut the door on Nofoaluma going back to Victoria.

“We know that he had a stint at the Melbourne Storm last year. I rang the Storm to see if they would be interested now that Nofoaluma is clearly out of the team, whether they would be interested in revisiting taking Nofoaluma down there,” Riccio said.

“They said they certainly wouldn't close the door on the option.

“They would prefer a forward than an outside back but they said they would certainly not close the door on welcoming back Nofaluma, who they love down there.”

The Storm have had something of a crisis injury-wise in the backline to start the new season, but at full strength, there is no guarantee Nofoaluma would take a spot, with Ryan Papenhuyzen at fullback, and Nick Meaney joined by Queensland Origin star Xavier Coates on the wing.