When Storm coach Craig Bellamy and Football Director Frank Ponissi departed for the U.S.A in the off-season they did so with one goal – to learn.
Constantly trying to improve is at the forefront of what the Club strives for and the two-week fact finding mission has helped do just that.
The pair began the trip by spending a week with the All Blacks in Chicago. Bellamy and Ponissi have maintained a good relationship with the formidable national team ever since 2010, when they first joined the All Blacks for a training camp in Auckland.
In Chicago, Bellamy and Ponissi received full access to team meetings, coaches meetings and training, providing them with invaluable experience of how one of the world’s most dominant teams go about their business.
“They are a unique organisation, we were just privileged to have an opportunity,” Ponissi said.
“They were so welcoming, their players and staff, we worked out after that week why they are so successful, they are just a high quality organisation. They maintain a high level of standards with everything they do, in their actions on and off the field.
“There is genuine care about the All Blacks in everything they do and they care about all the people involved, players and staff, it is very much a family-like organisation.”
The second week saw Bellamy and Ponissi head to Columbus, Ohio where they visited various elite sporting programs including Ohio State University.
From there, they ventured to Florida to spend a full day picking the brain of NFL coaching legend and Hall of Famer Bill Parcells.
Parcels shared the wisdom he had gained after spending 23 years as an NFL Head Coach. He is the only man to take four different teams to the playoffs and is a two-time Super Bowl Champion.
Bellamy and Ponissi were also able to spend a day with NBA teams the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets.
Several of Storm’s high performance staff also spent time in the U.S while Jason Ryles completed a stint with English Rugby Union.
Ponissi believes there is a constant need to improve and develop internally, regardless of where a Club is at.
“We are always looking at how people run their organisation at all levels, from my role, Craig’s role to how they run their performance staff,” Ponissi said.
“You always learn, we’ve got a very open mind, you’re not going to come back with a thousand ideas either but you get a lot of ideas that consolidate what you do back here.
“You always remind yourself on these trips to challenge yourselves back in Melbourne to see what we can do next year to be even better.
“We’re coming off a very strong base in 2016 so we’re not going to change things too much because we weren’t far off it but at the same time we’ve got to find that extra one or two percent because if we don’t we will stay exactly where we were or go backwards.”