Former NRL player and coach Jason Ryles has rejected his boyhood club, the St George Illawarra Dragons, in favour of joining the Melbourne Storm as an assistant coach. Ryles played 156 NRL games for the Dragons and was strongly linked with a return to his hometown club, but instead opted to return to the Victorian capital ahead of the 2024 NRL season. The decision was made with his family and will be best for his coaching growth and development. As the Dragons continue their search for a new head coach following the sacking of Anthony Griffin, they will also be on the hunt for a new major sponsor, with St George Bank ending its partnership with the club after more than 40 years.
According to Dragons CEO Ryan Webb, Ryles was among the candidates being interviewed for the head coach position, but hours later it emerged that he had walked away from the negotiating table to return to the club where he finished his playing career. Melbourne Storm CEO Justin Rodski said Ryles was a popular figure at the club and would add further depth to the coaching ranks. He will also play an important role in working with the pathways, academies, and junior representative programs in the coming years.
St George Illawarra sacked coach Anthony Griffin after the team suffered six straight defeats and languished at the bottom of the ladder. The club is now recalibrating its search for a new coach and continuing talks with an undisclosed number of candidates. The decision by St George Bank to end its partnership with the Dragons comes as the bank’s parent company, the Westpac Group, becomes one of the main sponsors for the NRL and NRLW ahead of the 2023 season. The bank will continue to support the Dragons until the end of the 2024 season as the club assesses its future sponsorship arrangements.