CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 08: Raiders coach Ricky Stuart reacts after a the Panthers kick an equalising conversion during the round 14 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Penrith Panthers at GIO Stadium on June 8, 2018 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

For those who have been off the grid for the past week and a bit, there has been a plethora of action in terms of the make ups of NRL coaching teams.

The circus at the foot of the mountains has dominated air time but in the last few days it has come out that Manly will also be looking for a new coach in the not too distant future.

… I wonder if the two are related somehow?

If there is one man who would be thankful for the media attention out west it is Ricky Stuart. It has gone massively under the radar but Canberra have quietly been losing games they should have won for almost two full years now.

Despite a horror season the Raiders have finally officially dropped out of the race for the finals. They’re eight points behind the eighth-placed Broncos with only three games to go.

This officially means that the Raiders have missed the finals two seasons in a row and have played at the business end of the season only once in the past five years.

The Raiders have gone from a dropped ball from Edrick Lee away from a red hot Grand Final against the Sharks in 2016 to high scoring also-rans.

Despite being the highest scoring team across the entire competition, the Raiders won’t feature in the finals. It just goes to show that the Raiders woes run much deeper than simple footballing abilities.

I have literally lost count of the amount of times Canberra scored a heap of points and looked set for victory only for them to completely bottle it and lose late.

There are many theories as to why this happens. Anything from their forwards being unfit to a game plan that saps energy early to mental weakness have been suggested. A quick look at the size and playing minutes of their front row suggests there may be something there, but most of the blame seems to be directed at the man who runs the show, Ricky Stuart.

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When I see this I refer to fans on social media. Stuart seems to be totally immune for pressure by either the club or his mates in the media.

Raiders fans continue to throw their hands up in frustration as exactly the same thing continues to happen over and over yet changes aren’t being made.

I’ve got no answers as to what Canberra fans are thinking so I reached out to the source. Speaking to Mike from the supremely popular Green Machine Podcast he revealed his thoughts on the gaffer.

“I could do a couple of hours on Ricky Stuart. I think he has been amazing for the Canberra community and has also put together a pretty talented side.”

“Unfortunately results don’t lie and 1 Semi final series in 5 seasons means he isn’t getting the best out a talented roster and should be under immense pressure to keep his job.”

Proving that I’m not the only one who believes the size and lack of minutes in the Raiders starting big men, Mike comments: “I’m honestly not too worried about the two props as I think the game is changing and the big boys who play less minutes are becoming less valuable.”

To the Raiders mentor’s credit he has attempted to make changes for next year’s roster. Given that the side has missed finals for two straight years, it should not come as a shock that the halves combination is set for a shake up. That said, I was shocked to see that it was Austin who was allowed to walk away.

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Mike agrees: “The loss of Blake Austin worries me more but mostly because we haven’t got a viable replacement. I do think the team needs a shake up and some changes but really hoping for a signing or an up and coming youngster that will slot into the halves and be successful.”

From a Sydney-based outside, it doesn’t look like Ricky Stuart is under any pressure despite the fact his default reaction to every loss is to cry foul about officiating, I asked the Green Machine podcast host, should Ricky Stuart be under pressure?

Mike: “No doubt but he clearly isn’t. One of the problems with the Raiders is they have always accepted the mediocrity. In the entire history of the Raiders they have sacked one coach. The rest have moved on of their own volition. I will support this team until the day I die but it would be nice for them to be legitimate contenders more than once a decade.”

“The fact that no other side has a longer grand final drought than us is a clear indication that the club needs to make some changes. I really like Rick and hope he finds us some success. I’d like to say have faith, we’ll come good but no grand final appearances since 1994 doesn’t inspire a lot of faith.”

As it stands there are a few coaches under pressure to keep their job. Perhaps given their impressive roster and the matter of their losses, Ricky Stuart should be right there among that list.

12 COMMENTS

  1. No he shouldn’t be, why do contracts mean nothing anymore?? Wayne Bennett contracted to the end of 2019 signed and delivered but yet the administration are thinking of sacking him. No the contract that all parties signed back in 2014 was for the end of 2019 so they shouldn’t have any power whats so ever unless there were Ts and Cs that stated they could sack him, which i highly doubt Bennett would of agreed with. It goes with players as well if you sign a contract than your there until it ends. Welcome to the real world!

  2. Fair assessment. Good article Dan

    I can’t see Stuart finding another NRL coaching gig once this one finally expires.

  3. Can you imagine how dull press conferences would be without Ricky and Canberra. I look forward to them after every game they loose.

  4. The thing is though. If the refs didn’t shaft them all year, they would be in the top 8 comfortable it’s not Ricky’s flat the refs constantly got it wrong

      • Hate to admit it but this write up is very correct!

        Over the years we a have voluntarily accepted “mediocrity”. It is because we have always been put to the side.

        Sticky bleeds green and so many of us the loyal fans do too, but it does not help that we are constantly not getting the rub of the green per se with calls by the officials. Its like there is a different set of time allowance, rules or whatever whenever Canberra plays.

        I agree with Sticky when he cries foul but how do we alleviate that too? We need thinking players in key positions, I’ve said it time and time again, if we can pay overs for a game manager in the halves it would make a world of difference!

        He is something! Id say, pay overs and sign Jon Thurston to a 1 year contract to structure the team and have the idiots like Leilua and co pull their head in. And I am not joking!

        • Fair call on the rub of the green. Raiders are constantly screwed over by the refs, and that comes from a sharks supporter. As for paying overs for halves to manage a game, that isn’t always the surest way. St George are the perfect example of how that can go so very wrong.

  5. Ricky came out at the beginning of last season after a couple of losses and said sides have worked us out, they where also was going to work us out, I knew we wouldn`t score the point we have in the past.

    My question was then as it is now, well if you knew this, as coach, why didn`t you change a few things? I thought that what coach`s do.

    Then he comes out on the Matty Johns show and tell us how hard they have been working on closing games out !! Guess what, you training isn`t working

    He`s got to go

  6. Id love sticky at manly id love to see him jumping up and down on the sidelines. The refs shaft the raiders almost worse than they do manly not his fault there cheats

  7. Hate to admit it but this write up is very correct!

    Over the years we a have voluntarily accepted “mediocrity”. It is because we have always been put to the side.

    Sticky bleeds green and so many of us the loyal fans do too, but it does not help that we are constantly not getting the rub of the green per se with calls by the officials. Its like there is a different set of time allowance, rules or whatever whenever Canberra plays.

    I agree with Sticky when he cries foul but how do we alleviate that too? We need thinking players in key positions, I’ve said it time and time again, if we can pay overs for a game manager in the halves it would make a world of difference!

    He is something! Id say, pay overs and sign Jon Thurston to a 1 year contract to structure the team and have the idiots like Leilua and co pull their head in. And I am not joking!

  8. Sticky will never be under pressure!

    He and the club know we will always get shafted by the NRL. So why sack someone who bleeds for the club! Simple as that. !

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