Controversial move from Sydney to ACT begins for former star player.
Incoming Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said strong lines of communication with all players will be key to turning around the side’s fortunes in 2014.
Fresh off a horror season which was plagued by controversies, injuries and sackings, Stuart’s move to the club has been met with a mixed response.
The former Raiders star left the Parramatta Eels after just one season in charge, and with two more years on his deal to go after the Eels earned the wooden spoon thanks to only collecting five wins in 26 games, Canberra fans have met the move with hesitation.
Canberra was still on track to play in the finals this season before a horror final six weeks saw former coach David Furner sacked, Blake Ferguson going missing before also being cut loose by the club.
The final straw was revelations young star Anthony Milford and Josh Pappalii were drinking heavily in the days leading up to the side’s do-or-die game against New Zealand, which they went on to lose.
With all of the the controversies at the club in not just the past season but the past five years, Stuart said a measured hardline approach was what was needed.
“I’m always seen to be the one with a hardline approach,” he said
“I’d like people to see or know that there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes in regards to the welfare and care of the players,” he said.
“Sometimes what’s said behind closed doors and the cuddle you can give a player is actually a big part of the player growing up and maturing.”
Stuart said while family reasons played a part in him leaving the Eels, he said he also wanted to take his former club back to the heights it enjoyed when he was running around in the number seven jersey, with the former Australian star helping Canberra to three premierships.
“No, I’m very confident with what I can do,” he said.
“I’m happy to cop the barrage that I’ve copped, the criticism of the critics, because I want to coach this great club and I want to bring my family back to Canberra.”