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



Nine males, one female; divers watch turtles get frisky

Mating season ends this month.

One female, nine males, this is all part of nature for turtles

Hervey Bay to be home to some of hockey's Masters

HOME OF THE MASTERS: Hervey Bay Hockey Association, pictured celebrating their Association of the Year trophy, will host the Over-60s Men's carnival next year.

Hervey Bay will host the over-60s men's masters in 2017.

OPINION: I'm not a fan, but I see why many support Pauline

Profile - Eliza Wheeler. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle

The region feels disgruntled and neglected.

Local Partners

Why The Wrong Girl is right for Jessica Marais

Jessica Marais and Ian Meadows in a scene from the TV series The Wrong Girl.

ACTOR makes the sometimes awkward character her own in new comedy.

What's on the small screen this week

Jessica Marais in a scene from the TV series The Wrong Girl.

A NEW romantic comedy debuts while footy codes ramp up for finals.

Airbourne talk drop bears, beer and taxes

Airbourne have a new album coming out and a new tour on the way.  Photo Contributed

Airbourne release album for the aussie battler

Pippa Middleton had 3000 private photos stolen

Author Pippa Middleton

Author's account hacked to access 3000 private photos

Gruen star discovers the body's limits in new hit TV show

Todd Sampson tries out MMA fighting during TV series BodyHack.

Gruen star pushes the limits in new TV series

Deftones return to Australia with string of dates

Deftones are back in town. Photo Contributed

World renowned nu-metal pioneers return

Property leader says Fraser Coast market is looking up

Positivity is the buzz word in the Fraser Coast housing market

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