The drama following Ricky Stuart’s surprisingly personal spray against Penrith Panther Jaeman Salmon has taken another turn, with the Canberra Raiders coach offering an apology in the wake of wide-scale condemnation.
But the Salmon family have responded in kind, confirming their confusion over Stuart's post-game sentiments and calling on the NRL to take disciplinary action.
"We were disappointed by the comments of of Ricky Stuart after a fantastic game of football for the Panthers and our son, Jaeman," the family said in a statement.
"We were surprised by Ricky's claim that he knows Jaeman personally as they've had no contact since Jae was 12 years old.
"We are calling on the NRL to take action as we believe Jaeman has been wronged in this situation
"We will follow the correct procedures and let the NRL complete a thorough investigation."
Stuart kicked off the conversation in the post-match press conference, when asked about Salmon’s 60th-minute act, when he struck out at Tom Starling with his feet, connecting in both Starlings groin and head.
“I’ve had a history with (Salmon),” Stuart declared.
“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.”
While Stuart has a history of aggressive press conferences and has been in hot water before, the Salmon incident was different given the clearly personal tone and attack on Salmon’s character.
But while Channel 9’s Danny Weidler initially reported that Stuart was unrepentant, it’s clear the coach has had time to think about things overnight, issuing an apology today for his actions.
“I regret saying what I did on that platform after the game,” Stuart said.
“I was speaking as a father and not as a football coach.
“My reaction was to a family situation that I thought I had dealt with. Clearly, I haven’t.
“I allowed my emotions to get the better of me and for that I’m sorry. There is a history between Jaeman Salmon and my family that I won’t go into. I should not have brought it up after the game, but it just got the better of me.
“I am truly sorry that I have caused my family and the game unwanted attention.”
Notably, he didn’t directly apologise to Salmon.
Though it hasn't been confirmed, it's believed the feud between the two goes all the way back to junior football, when Stuart's son was playing with Salmon in the Cronulla junior competition.
While Salmon has been issued with a fine by the MRC following the incident with Starling, it remains to be seen what action the NRL will take against the Raiders coach.
NRL boss Andrew Abdo advised Triple M's Sin-Bin today that the league was looking at the incident and considering action against Stuart.