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.
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.
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.