Veteran league player thankful for last chance with Storm

Jason Ryles of the Storm is tackled during the round one NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the St George Illawarra Dragons at AAMI Park on March 10, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.
Jason Ryles of the Storm is tackled during the round one NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the St George Illawarra Dragons at AAMI Park on March 10, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. Scott Barbour / Getty Images

STORM prop Jason Ryles has had some wretched luck in his 13 years as a first-grade footballer.

He played in an all-star St George-Illawarra side that was bundled out in consecutive preliminary finals in 2005 and 2006.

After spending 2009 in the English Super League, he returned to the NRL with the Sydney Roosters in 2010, only to be beaten in the grand final by his old club, the Dragons.

With his time running out, Ryles switched to the Storm at the start of last season, and in another cruel scenario, tore his hamstring in the finals series, missing the club's preliminary final and grand final wins.

The former New South Wales and Australian representative will retire at the end of this season, giving him one final chance to realise his dream and win an NRL premiership ring.

"It was disappointing for me not being able to play in last year's grand final, but you have to put the team first and it was wonderful for the club," Ryles said.

Despite all the blood, sweat and tears, and without a grand final victory to show for it, Ryles said he would be content to pull the pin from football in October, regardless of whether the Storm went back-to-back.

"I'm very comfortable to be retiring. If I didn't get this opportunity at the Storm, I'd already be retired," the 34-year-old said.

"As you get older, it gets more and more difficult to put yourself through pre-seasons. But I think I can still play well this year."

He might not yet have experienced the sheer elation of holding a premiership trophy aloft, but in many ways Ryles experienced a genuine sense of redemption last month when the Craig Bellamy-coached club beat Leeds 18-14 to win the World Club Challenge.

"It was great for me to be a part of a World Club Challenge win, especially after what happened at the Dragons and the Roosters," Ryles said.



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