Gareth Ellis: How we can learn lessons from Storm '˜crisis' in NRL

IT HAS been fascinating for me spending a week at Melbourne Storm '“ and getting an access-all-areas insight into how one of the most consistent rugby league teams in the world operates.

Melbourne Storm's Billy Slater during the World Club Challenge (Picture:
Melbourne Storm's Billy Slater during the World Club Challenge (Picture:

While I was in Melbourne for the World Cup last year I managed to catch up with Frank Ponissi – Storm’s football director – for a couple of hours.

He is really highly regarded in what he does and even in that couple of hours

I picked up a quite a lot of little things just about how he worked.

Victorious Melbourne Storm with the World Club Challenge trophy (Picture: Brendon Ratnayake/

He said at the time if I got chance during the course of the season to come out and see what happens in real time in terms of shadowing him while the team is there. With the season drawing to a close and the play-offs looming, most clubs shut up shop in the NRL when it comes to any sorts of outside eyes so it had to be sooner rather than later.

While we’re struggling to make any inroads to get into the top-four with Hull it seemed a good opportunity to go and do it.

It was really good for me personally to see what Storm do and there was plenty I could bring back to FC in terms of the way they work day-to-day.

Don’t get me wrong, they probably have twice as many staff as us so we have to be realistic with what we can implement and then maintain if we’re going to do it the right way.

But just to see how they did all the video sessions, how they structured their week, their training… it was all a little bit different to how we do it.

All that stuff is invaluable. It was nice to see from a different perspective but also reassuring to see some of the good things we already do at Hull as well.

Again, don’t get me wrong, it helps that for most of the last 10 to 15 years, Storm have had three of probably the greatest players of all time in their team in Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.

They’re aware of that and are planning for the next stage but when not only are those players the best in the team but also your hardest-working that in itself is a recipe for success. The administrative side is just to manage that success.

I watched their home game against Cronulla which, typically, they actually lost.

It was funny as they’d got beaten by Souths the week before I got there, too, and they were all hurting. They thought they’d got bullied by the Burgess boys in an un-Melbourne way – they’re normally doing the bullying – so to lose two on the bounce was almost crisis time. Sacrilege.

Craig Bellamy was not a happy man. The reason it was seen as the end of the world is that they set such high standards for themselves. They have a high level of accountability of both players and staff and everyone is encouraged and supported to get better at what they do in order to help the team be successful.

But if you came in at any point you wouldn’t know if they’d have won or lost as the processes were exactly the same; they still praise the good stuff and are critical about the bad stuff, win or lose.

They don’t let up just because they’ve won and that’s something we’ve probably been guilty of at Hull; we may have got carried away with wins and that can smooth over the cracks. Storm just focus on the process and are always trying to get better which is a trait we can adopt ourselves.