St Kilda coach Ross Lyon and assistant Corey Enright and (inset) Gerry Ryan. Pictures: AFL Photos, St Kilda FC

WHEN the NRL stripped Melbourne Storm of its 2007 and 2009 premierships for salary cap breaches and prevented them from collecting any points in 2010, they still won 14 games that season despite having nothing tangible to play for. 

That is the key reason why members of the Storm came and spoke to St Kilda at a meeting inside RSEA Park on Friday. 

Mathematically, the Saints can still play in September. But realistically, the season has been over for a couple of weeks now, if not longer.

With eight games to play before the weekend, Ross Lyon was determined to ensure St Kilda doesn't waste July and August. He wants to salvage something from 2024. 

AFL clubs have tried to bottle the magic potion that has seen Craig Bellamy's program win three premierships – plus the two they were stripped of – and reach four other Grand Finals, despite being situated in a part of the country where rugby league lives in the shadow of the AFL's dominance of the sporting landscape.

High profile Victorian businessman Gerry Ryan, who is the owner and founder of Jayco Australia and professional cycling outfit Team Jayco, is a former board member at St Kilda and a long-time supporter of the club, while also being a part-owner of the Melbourne Storm since 2013.


It was Ryan who connected the two organisations last week, with the session helping the Saints take its biggest scalp of the season on Sunday, where they kicked the final four goals of the game to defeat premiership favourites Sydney at Marvel Stadium. 

"To be honest, we can't get stuck in win-loss. It's really about training prep, standards and setting a foundation for future success," Lyon said on Sunday night. 

"We're really fortunate we're building a relationship with the Storm. They come in and we spoke about when they went through the heartbreak, they shared that experience. 

"When they had their cups ripped off them, they played a season without points and basically won that competition and stayed united.

"After that initial shock, they just committed to wanting full preparation, wanting full review. They knew that laid foundations for future success. 

"We just know it's unlikely and probably impossible for us to play finals, but how we go about it, train, prepare, compete and review, sets the standard for future success."


While Bellamy is the face of the Storm's sustained excellence, Frank Ponissi has been the club's general manager since arriving in 2007 and is widely considered one of the best sports administrators in the country. Ponissi's fingerprints are all over Melbourne's success. 

Robert Harvey has a longstanding relationship with the Storm dating back to his time as a Collingwood assistant coach, while Lenny Hayes has also spent time doing personal development inside AAMI Park.

Robert Harvey and Ross Lyon during St Kilda's training session at RSEA Park on November 21, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Storm player wellbeing manager Brian Phelan worked in that area at St Kilda between 2001 and 2004 when Harvey, Hayes and Brendon Goddard all played for the Saints, but has been at the NRL club for the past 20 years.

St Kilda played finals last year in Lyon's first season back at the club, but the Saints are three games outside the eight right now with seven rounds to play. 

Melbourne Storm responded in 2011 by spending almost the entire season on top of the ladder before winning the minor premiership. They lost a preliminary final, but then responded the following year to defeat Canterbury in the Grand Final. 

Time will tell if the lessons can help St Kilda win an elusive second premiership, but it was a positive response on Sunday. Just when it looked like they had nothing to play for.