Where are they now – Jason Ryles
You do not have to look far to find Jason Ryles.
Take a glance to the Storm bench to see the man standing up, headset on, with a direct line up to Craig Bellamy in the box.
The former prop may now wear a Club suit instead of a purple jersey on game day but his influence is just as profound.
Many put Melbourne’s remarkable on-field success over the last two seasons down to the improvement of their forward pack.
Ryles has played a pivotal role in that. As an assistant coach under Bellamy, the 38-year-old works primarily with the forwards.
None have had a greater role in the development of the Storm pack than Ryles and it is in that development that he receives his greatest satisfaction as a coach.
“What I enjoy is watching the boys improve, knowing that you’ve worked with them and then watching them go out on the field and slowly keep improving each week,” Ryles said.
“I enjoy seeing Nelson come from where I started with him when I first got here to where he is now. It is really rewarding watching Kenny develop, Jesse maintaining that really consistent footy and helping him do that.
“It is all them doing it but you are just helping to steer them in the right direction, keep giving them feedback and that sort of thing.
“Watching all that happen and knowing you’ve had a tiny, little part of it is really rewarding.”
After 270 NRL games, 46 with Storm in the final two seasons, Ryles moved straight into coaching in 2014.
He took on the role of player-coach back home in Wollongong with the Western Suburbs Red Devils who were playing in the local Illawarra Coal League.
Coaching was not necessarily in the plans after his playing career but Ryles was pleasantly surprised with how quickly he warmed to it, guiding the Red Devils to a Grand Final appearance straight off the bat.
At the end of that season Bellamy called with an offer to join his coaching staff, an offer he was more than happy to accept.
“I’ve got lucky getting this job here,” Ryles said.
“Timing is everything, there was another coach leaving so an opportunity came up. Storm wanted to go with a model of getting ex-players in that understood the culture and the way that Storm do things.
I am happy that I’m here, I love the Club and I love everything that the Club stands for so I think that is why I love the job so much.
“I learn off Craig every day. His experience, you can’t really teach. He has been around for so long that he understands how it all works, he keeps it so simple and doesn’t think any further than the next week.”
The workload is the main thing Ryles points to as the difference between a player and a coach.
The work does not stop when the training session ends. There is watching video, running meetings, watching more video, planning training, looking at the opposition and if you have the time, some more video analysis.
His love for the job and the Club have made him embrace the long hours.
Humility, hard work, honesty and accountability. They are the values that everyone at Melbourne Storm lives by, regardless of your role.
Ryles played nine seasons at the Dragons and two at the Roosters but if he had his choice this was the place he wish he had of started his career.
“To put it in perspective I wish I’d started here, not finished here,” Ryles said.
“It just all made sense, your job was simple, you heard the same messaging nearly every week. The same message, the same process which therefore breeds consistency out on the field.
“That is one of the things I wasn’t used to with the Clubs I’d been at. I was lucky to have good coaches but that process and the way we do things here, it helps you be more consistent.”