Let’s do this. I’ve wanted to remove Ricky Stuart from the NRL for some time now, but this year he will be my focus and join the list of casualties I’ve removed from the game. Some names include Brian Smith and Jason Ryles, and Ricky Stuart will be on this list by season’s end, with some predicting he will be gone before the origin series starts. I bloody hope so.
His career started out on top with the Roosters, but has a declined ever since his maiden premiership season. He coached a star studded Roosters line up to 3 grand finals in a row. But the absence of Fittler has been the absence of his success. And it is for this reason why I want to talk about how OVERRATED Ricky Stuart actually is.
In 2005 he was appointed NSW coach and lost game 1 in golden point. In game 2 the selectors went with Trent Barrett and Braith Anasta in the halves. Andrew Johns had 1 game back from injury (completely tore apart the Broncos) and they opted against him. Fortunately for NSW and Ricky, Trent Barrett went down with an injury during the camp and the SOS was sent out to Joey. This for me is where it gets interesting. Mark Gasnier, on the Fox Gold special about the ’05 series, stated the entire camp changed once Joey got there. Instantly everyone was on the same page. The standard of the training and execution increased, simply by implementing Joey to the team. But isn’t this the job of the coach? Isn’t the coach the one who creates the game plan, or environment where the players are combining as one? Not the guy overlooked due to injury. Joey managed to secure a series victory quite comfortably, but this added to Ricky’s already ‘impressive resume’.
At the end of the 2005 Tri-Series in the UK, Wayne Bennet was sacked as Australia’s coach for losing the series to the Kiwis. I have vivid memories of Bennett being hounding by the media upon his return. Ricky Stuart was given the top coaching job in Australian Rugby League. During his time he won 10 of 11 games. But who was in charge of this team I ask? Yes, Darren Lockyer. He managed to coach the three best players of their generation, Andrew Johns, Darren Lockyer, and Brad Fittler.I remember a teacher say ‘you could coach the Aussie team over the phone’. Now I don’t care who you are, if any of those three are in your side you WILL have success. Now although he only lost 1 game as coach of Australia, it was the most important game, the 2008 World Cup final.
If he can’t pull together Smith, Thurston, Slater, and Lockyer for a one off game against the Kiwis, what chance does he have with an NRL side? These guys won 6 origin series with Lockyer and 8 in total in a row. They haven’t lost a decider since Joey Johns in ’05, and the only sudden death match they lost was 4-6 at ANZ stadium, not Suncorp.
Let’s remember, he did coach 3 grand finals straight, only coming away with one victory. But since those 3 grand finals, Stuart has coached 2 teams to the finals. Once was in ‘08 where they flipped their close match record (matches decided with 6 points or less) from the previous year to make a preliminary final, and once again with the Raiders in ’16 with a hell of a lot of momentum. 8 years apart. Since 2005 he’s coached the Roosters to 2nd last (2006), the Sharks to 2nd last (2009, and in 2010 they came 3rd last because the Storm weren’t playing for points, so they still had the 2nd least amount of wins), the Eels to a wooden spoon (2013), and the Raiders to 2nd last (2014). Also, in 2014 the Eels improved to 9th even after having their roster ripped to shreds by Stuart with the old overhead projector. So anyone who wants to refer back to his 3 grand final appearances must understand he’s finished in the bottom two more than he’s finished in the top two. Remember that when you want to talk shit.
What also grinds my gears with Stuart is how he behaves in the press conferences. He believes his own bullshit. He has this false belief that he knows how to relieve the pressure from his players and differ it elsewhere. It’s a load of horse shit. He deflects the pressure off himself. He’s the one getting paid $1m a season with an atrocious record, and then last year the Raiders thought it would be a grand idea to award him an extension. An extension?! They didn’t even make the 8. Geoff Toovey missed the 8 one time, one year after finishing equal first, and he was moved on. Can I hear it again? ‘There needs to be an investigation!!’
He continues to blame the on field officials, the video ref, the CEO of the game, his playing roster, anyone but himself. Soon he’s going to blame your next door neighbour’s girlfriend’s pet Chihuahua. It’s YOU Ricky, the results speak for themselves. Instead of taking responsibility, he’s taking the Raiders football club and their fans for a ride. He will continue to take NRL clubs and their fans for a ride for as long as he’s coaching. It is time Ricky leaves his coaching job and focuses on his family. It’s what’s right for the game!