Jack of all trades

How one Melbourne storm rugby league player plans to build a career beyond the football field.

While many know him as an NRL halfback with Melbourne Storm, Ryley ‘Jacksy’ Jacks is quietly carving out a future career path beyond the football field.

A respected NRL player,  Ryley has impressed commentators and fans with his steady skills and hard-working commitment to the game. It’s this same determination which has seen Ryley power through 12 months of a Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) at Trade Institute of Victoria.

Thanks to the NRL’s welfare and education program, supporting players beyond their on-field careers, Ryley swapped footy boots for work boots and headed back to trade school on his days off.

“There aren’t many trade schools and building courses who would offer a one-on-one program with a teacher. While I knew I wanted to study and add extra skills, I was worried about how this would work in and around my playing schedule”

A meet-up with TIV staff to discuss a customised construction course with a tutoring program soon convinced Ryley he’d made the right decision.

While Ryley finished his carpentry apprenticeship in Queensland before joining Melbourne Storm, he’d stepped straight onto the playing field in lieu of a full-time trade. It mattered to him that he kept his skills updated as part of his vision for his future.

“Having the knowledge of what it takes to build a house, being up on the latest building codes and all the small business processes made this course interesting.”

The managerial side of the building industry also appealed, “site supervising or project management is something I’d be really interested in getting into down the track.”

TIV’s flexible support has blown Ryley away.

“Having that one-on-one tutoring helped me power through the course units. My teacher developed an intensive program and the study rooms at TIV mean I could just stay focused. My tutor Roslyn showed me images and examples of project, and organised site visits of builds so I could complete each unit with a firm understanding of the elements. I emailed in with any questions, there’s a database to upload assignments and each unit had information booklets to refer to. Nothing has been too hard to understand, and everyone was helpful with support.”

Ryley’s greatest obstacle to study was allocating time for independent course work.

“It’s hard to find the time to do the homework but I have a lot of flying time to games so I would pull out a booklet and knuckle down while in the air. Sometimes you just wanted to have a break and talk to others, but I knew if I stayed focused the course would be finished in just over a year“

Ryley reflected that the units covering preparations for construction contracts offered great insight. “I wouldn’t have been confident to estimate building costs and identify all of the aspects of a build – that part of the course was really helpful for me.

With most of the course classroom based, as a visual learner, Ryley was keen to see practical examples on job sites.

“It was terrific to be able to access an actual construction site to refer to codes and legal requirements, I got to look for defects and check in on all of the OH&S things you need to know.”

“TIV helped me fast-track that access and make sure that access to other experts really worked around my playing schedule.”

It’s the “switching off from footy and on to class-time” that has brought a surprise benefit for Ryley and his team.

“Studying has made me mentally more balanced as a player. You can’t just have footy 24/7 in your head.”

“Spending time focusing on something completely different takes your mind of the stresses of the game and helps you re-group. I’ve really enjoyed that difference, and I think it’s made me mentally stronger.”

“I’ve been able to tap into what I used to do, and while I love my playing days, I know that trade school will potentially give me so much after footy too.”

It’s no surprise that 26 yo Ryley has been more than comfortable settling into trade school sessions with an individual teacher.
Ryley’s parents and his 3 siblings are teachers. While he loves his professional playing days, Ryley hasn’t ruled out some form of teaching in his own career as he has enjoyed his mentoring and teen talks with Melbourne Storm community events.

“I make sure I walk the talk when I chat to kids. When they meet me they want to hear my story, how I got into playing, how I live my life – but I make sure I always tell them you’ve also got to have something to fall back on.

A fallback for this halfback could be more trade qualifications – Ryley’s already thinking about a Diploma of Building and Construction.

As the NRL’s trade school student trail blazer, Ryley has now been followed by 7 other players who have undertaken their Certificate in Carpentry as a group.

Talk to TIV today about climbing your own trade career ladder by signing up for our Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building).

Ready to Start Building Your Future with TIV?

Newsletter Subscription