MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 27: Christian Welch of the Storm warms up during the round 19 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Manly Sea Eagles at AAMI Park on July 27, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Melbourne Storm forward Christian Welch has explained that if it wasn't for a cruel ACL tear in 2019, he would have been plying his trade for the Eels and not the Storm this season.

Welch, 27, told The Sydney Morning Herald that he had met with Parramatta coach Brad Arthur and was poised to ink a three-year deal with the Bankwest side prior to the season ending ailment.

“I was actually about to sign,” Welch revealed.

“I made up my mind on a Thursday, I was driving to the airport, called my manager and said, ‘Let’s get it done early next week’.

“I went up to Brisbane, played the Broncos on the Friday night and did my ACL. The Parra offer was then pulled, which was understandable.

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“But I liked Parramatta and the direction they were heading in was really positive. It was actually exciting. My brother lives in Sydney. It was going to be a new challenge.

“I was a similar age to Clint Gutherson and played against Mitch Moses in the under-20s. They seemed like great fellas."

With the potential deal scuppered, Parramatta instead turned their focus to recruiting another Origin calibre big to fill their forward pack void.

“It ended up being a win-win to be fair. Parramatta signed Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who has been excellent for them, and I ended up staying in Melbourne and got the chance to win a premiership," Welch said complimentarily.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 27: Reagan Campbell-Gillard of the Eels celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round three NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Cronulla Sharks at Bankwest Stadium on March 27, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Welch will now watch on the see whether the Storm will face off against their 2020 Grand Final opponents Penrith or earn a date with a group of men the Queenslander could have called teammates in next week's preliminary final.

As a player with a nous for market movements, Welch will be afforded a chance to once again negotiate with rival clubs this November.

But as the current holder of a contract with Craig Bellamy's side for another season, a return to the purple powerhouse could well be what plays out.

Welch has previously been sought after by the Bulldogs and Dragons, but turned his back on the latter deal due to an evident instability at Kogarah.

“It was tough with them [the Dragons] because I didn’t know who their coach was going to be and what they valued because at the Storm a lot of the stuff I do is valued and doesn’t necessarily show up on a stat sheet,” Welch said.

“It was always going to be hard to go somewhere with the unknowns.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 18: Christian Welch of the Storm looks on during a Melbourne Storm training session at Gosch's Paddock on February 18, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Having called the Victorian capital home for the entirety of his adult life, any pulls to dislodge the straight-running prop will need to be sizable given that many of Welch's long-term mates also reside in south of Rugby League's heartlands.

“I’d love to stay in Melbourne,” he said.

“Next year is my ninth year with the club and I’ve established some really long friendships here, including Cam Munster, who is one of my best mates."

However, the six-time Maroons representative stated that the lure of return to his state of origin could well get him across the line.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 04: Christian Welch takes on the defence during a Queensland Maroons State of Origin training session at Langlands Park on July 04, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“Over the off-season I’d love to get my future sorted so I can then focus on 2022," Welch expounded.

"Being a Brisbane boy, there’s certainly an appeal to come back home, but whether that’s my next contract or at the end of my footy career ... I’ll end up in Brisbane at some stage, it’s just a matter of when.”