Sport

A Prickly Ricky gives his Raiders the edge

Raiders Ricky Stuart has turned some of his players from outcasts to stars.
Raiders Ricky Stuart has turned some of his players from outcasts to stars. DEAN LEWINS

NO DOUBT we have all met someone about whom we had formed an opinion before getting to know them.

And sometimes, no doubt, they turned out to be just as we thought they were.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart can be just that person, although my view is tainted. Ricky and I have known each other for close to three decades and have had our differences.

The prickly Ricky we see on TV, in particular in press conferences following a loss, was often the man to whom I spoke while a working NRL scribe. But it was an attitude that usually helped create an interesting yarn.

That, thankfully, is in the past. More recent interaction has been courteous, although sporadic. Our paths don't cross much these days.

And they may not in the future either because sometimes NRL premiership-winning coaches suddenly become a little aloof, and difficult to contact.

While I'm not tipping the Raiders to win the comp, I won't be surprised if they do. And if they do win, Prickly Ricky will deserve every single plaudit that comes his way.

What he has done at Canberra this past season is nothing short of amazing. Ironically, on the eve of the Raiders-Storm grand final qualifier, it may not be drawing too long a bow to describe his coaching transformation as Craig Bellamy-like.

Born and raised in Canberra, Stuart played 203 NRL games for the club and won three premierships with the Raiders. His heart, quite obviously, was in the national capital when he returned two years ago to take over as head coach.

The wheels for the transformation were no doubt set in motion then, but took a while to gather traction. That happened back in round 16 and the Green Machine has been beaten only once since.

The comparison with Bellamy comes because of the manner in which Stuart has rebuilt and saved careers.

Joey Leilua was a talent, but a boofhead who had been moved on from two clubs. In two weeks he will almost certainly be named a Kangaroo.

His right-side demolition partner, Jordan Rapana, had two years on a Mormon mission after debuting for the Titans at 18. He then spent two more years floundering in rugby union before Stuart turned around his career.

Blake Austin was unwanted by the Panthers and Tigers; Sio Soliola was a spent force in the UK Super League; Junior Paulo was released by the Eels; and Joseph Tapine was cut loose by the Knights.

Further, who had heard of Josh Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead, Clay Priest and Luke Bateman? And would any other coach in the NRL dare to drop workaholic lock Shaun Fensom?

Now, just a mate and a gathering Storm stand between Stuart and another shot at glory.

Topics:  canberra raiders, ricky stuart, sportopinion, tony durkin


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Brisbane, Gold Coast airports hit by Border Force strikes

Extensive rolling stoppages to start today

RSPCA warns of tick outbreak

WARNING: Vets are urging pet owners to check their animals for deadly paralysis ticks.

The recent warm weather has seen an increase of tick cases in pets.

More than 9000 Queensland kids in foster care

The Department of Communities and Child Safety suspended or cancelled the permits of 30 carers last year while it substantiated 144 cases of harm to children.

30 foster carers banned as 144 cases of harm to children revealed.

Local Partners

UPDATE: Woman remains in critical condition after crash

VIDEO: A woman is fighting for her life after an accident this morning

Dad defends letting five year old do burnout

Five-year-old Riley Dobson has become a viral sensation after his dad Alex filmed him doing a burnout on their Thagoona property.

The single dad says he built the car with his son

Brisbane, Gold Coast airports hit by Border Force strikes

Extensive rolling stoppages to start today

RSPCA warns of tick outbreak

WARNING: Vets are urging pet owners to check their animals for deadly paralysis ticks.

The recent warm weather has seen an increase of tick cases in pets.

More than 9000 Queensland kids in foster care

The Department of Communities and Child Safety suspended or cancelled the permits of 30 carers last year while it substantiated 144 cases of harm to children.

30 foster carers banned as 144 cases of harm to children revealed.

Hospital emergency: Thousands clog ED with minor issues

EMERGENCY CALL: Ipswich Hospital's emergency department has been swamped in the past 12 months by people presenting with very minor issues.

Residents need to stop presenting with only minor treatment issues

Five ways to slash household bills and save the environment

THINK GREEN: Considering the environment when building or buying your next home can save you big dollars. The Village Building Company, who is responsible for Woodlinks Village at Collingwood Park, builds homes with this front of mind.

THERE is nothing as sweet as slashing dollars from your bills.

Car collides with police vehicle while on the run

The Queensland Police Polair 2 helicopter, which will begin operations from July 5, 2014.

Polair has been called in again after a driver evaded police.

Classic car auction draws buyers from US, Dubai

"He wants everyone to enjoy the cars, the collection got too big'

Angelina is blocking calls from Brad Pritt

Angelina Jolie has reportedly blocked Brad Pitt's number.

Apocalyptica 'seek and destroy' sceptics with 'master' set

Apocalyptica play Max Watts in Brisbane on their Shadowmaker Tour.

Review of final show of Apocalyptica's tour

Rebecca Hall doesn't own a TV

Newspapers, yes. Television, not so much

Jaime King 'terrified' by son's heart surgery

Jamie King was "terrified" when her son went in for heart surgery.

John Mayer's advice for Shawn Mendes

Shawn Mendes has revealed John Mayer gave him advice

Josh Brolin and Kathryn Boyd tie the knot

Josh Bolin marries in front of close friends and family

Five ways to slash household bills and save the environment

THINK GREEN: Considering the environment when building or buying your next home can save you big dollars. The Village Building Company, who is responsible for Woodlinks Village at Collingwood Park, builds homes with this front of mind.

THERE is nothing as sweet as slashing dollars from your bills.

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Rocky proves prime real estate in latest REIQ report

Kas Woch sold this Wood St home in Depot Hill for $107,000 in August.

A new investor's market as Rocky house prices hit lowest in state