Stuart’s comments came after a question over an incident midway through the second half of Penrith’s win over Canberra. After being tackled by utility Tom Starling, Salmon appeared to lash out with his foot, collecting Starling in the groin and then again in the head as the Raiders’ player fell.
“It’s not on,” Stuart said of Salmon’s antics after the game.
“I have history with that kid, I know that kid very well.
“He was a weak-gutted dog as a kid and he hasn’t changed now. He’s a weak-gutted dog person now.”
Reports in the aftermath of Stuart’s comments say that Salmon was keen to speak to media and respond after the game, but was advised against it by club officials. The Sydney Morning Herald reports Salmon is now considering legal action and possible defamation charges.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary, who spoke after Stuart, wouldn’t be drawn on the Raiders’ coach’s comments.
“I can’t imagine Jaeman having deliberately done that,” Cleary said.
“I don’t need to respond to those comments (from Stuart). I know what Jaeman is like, he’s valuable in our club and we love him, so that’s all that matters to us.”
Stuart was unrepentant after his statements, telling Channel 9 reporter Danny Weidler he wouldn’t back down from the comments after they were made.
Channel 9’s Phil Gould shed some light on the history of the relationship, saying Stuart’s son had played with Salmon in Penrith’s junior system.
“Ricky standing by what he said is extraordinary because I’ve never heard a coach say anything like that at a press conference,” Gould admitted.
“Ricky’s going to have to have a very good reason, I don’t know how he substantiates that. I think Salmon would have (recourse for) action against him.”
It remains to be seen how the matter is dealt with, both by the parties involved and with the NRL. It’s not the first time Stuart has courted controversy in his coaching career, having amassed fines totalling $120,000 over 21 years.