Ricky Stuart’s blow-up highlights ‘stupid’ post-match rule

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The reaction to Ricky Stuart’s blow-up on Saturday night has been utterly ridiculous.

Ricky was my coach at Cronulla for four seasons. He’s a very passionate person, everyone knows that. There’s no secrets with him, he wears his heart on his sleeve. What you see is what you get. He’s also a very loyal person.

What happened after the match between Canberra and Penrith has exposed one of the things that frustrates the hell out of me, and it’s the problem with the post-match press conference.

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I’ve been there, not as a coach obviously but as a player and as a captain.

Doing a media conference moments after a game is just stupid.

What’s happened with Ricky is exactly what the media wants and it’s what the public wants. To an extent it’s what those running the game want too, although obviously not in the manner that we saw on Saturday night.

Everyone wants someone to go into that media conference and say something stupid or outrageous so we’ve got something to talk about for three or four days. The whole rugby league media cycle is built on that.

The trouble is, as soon as someone says something controversial, we want to punish them and hang them out to dry. Suspending Ricky would be preposterous.

Freddy ‘in shock’ as Stuart comments

I don’t know why coaches are forced to do a media conference straight after a game, it’s stupid and 99 per cent of the time it’s boring.

The coaches go in there, and whenever they get asked a question about a contentious play they have the same answer.

“I didn’t really get a good look at it,” they say, which fools nobody. It’s boring. They should do it the next day, when they’ve had time to get over the emotion of the game.

That gives them time to review the game properly, and when they’re asked about any controversy that arose from the match they can give a considered answer. They’ll have seen all the replays from all the angles, and spoken to the players involved if it was from their team. Then they can speak about it properly.

The way it works is the match finishes, you go into the sheds and a lot of times the coach is halfway through the team talk and the media manager will tell them it’s time to go and do the press conference, and they have to walk out.

Stuart brands Panther a ‘weak-gutted dog’

It doesn’t matter if they’re midway through a spray, or midway through celebrating a win, it’s just ludicrous. They should not have to do it.

It’s why we usually get nothing but clich├ęs from the coaches. I don’t know why we bother.

If Ricky had spoken to the media on Sunday morning, he certainly wouldn’t have gone as hard as he did. There’s obviously history there between himself and Jaeman Salmon, it’s none of my business but clearly there’s an issue.

The quicker the NRL nips this in the bud, by fining Ricky and moving on, the better everyone will be. And I mean everyone, not just Ricky. This whole matter is not good for anyone. Neither party needs what happened in the past to be dragged up a decade later. Everyone’s got a history, it’s better if this just goes away quickly.

And talk of suspending Ricky is just ridiculous. What are you suspending him for? Having an opinion? Lets not forget Salmon was charged by the match review committee for the incident on Saturday night.

Clearly Ricky went too far, it wasn’t the time or the place to be saying what he did, but he’s apologised, so what is achieved by suspending him?

The incident involving Jaeman Salmon and Tom Starling that left Stuart fuming (Fox League)

Everyone knows how loyal Ricky is, and as he said, he thought he’d dealt with it but he hadn’t. It came up at the wrong time, in the wrong forum, but lets not forget it happened when emotions were still running high after a match where they’d been beaten.

Everything you work for all season is on the line, and in those circumstances sometimes people do things they later regret. That’s what happened here. It doesn’t mean we hang Ricky out to dry.

Ricky’s emotion is one reason his players love him so much. You want to play for him. When you’re on his side, he’ll go into battle for you, no matter what. Even if you’ve done the wrong thing he’ll do his very best to support you. It’s the way he is, and it’s why he’s got so much respect from those who he coaches.

If you go out there and do your best, he’ll do his best for you.

It’s interesting that he’s never mellowed over time, it’s just who he is. He doesn’t let other people’s opinions influence him. He’s so, so competitive. I can honestly say I’ve never met a more competitive person.

Jaeman Salmon scored a try in an impressive performance for the Panthers (Getty)

I’ve played pool with Ricky over a beer, and it’s life or death to him. He detests losing.

You look at the NRL ladder, and it’s easy to see why he was in the state he was. Every game is so important for Canberra right now, with the semi finals only a month away and they’re sitting two points outside the eight. They’d just lost to the team running first, who had a few of their best players out, and he’d have seen it as an opportunity missed.

They play the Dragons, Knights, Manly and Tigers in the run to the finals. They can win all four of those matches, and if that happens they should make the eight. But now they’re going to have all this attention on them this week, and I know players say the outside noise doesn’t make any difference, but the reality is it can make a difference mentally.

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Physically it’s irrelevant, but if there’s lots of stuff going on it can be a distraction. You only need a few guys to be off by one per cent and that’s the difference between winning and losing in the NRL.

Before I finish, I watched Thursday night’s match between the Roosters and Broncos with great interest.

The head clash between Victor Radley and Jake Turpin was sickening. It was also nothing more than an accident.

I had COVID-19 last week, it must have affected me so badly that I missed the bit where the NRL announced Turpin would be suspended for two weeks, just like Dale Finucane was for his accidental head clash with Stephen Crichton.

Or maybe the rules have changed again, because the inconsistencies are just crazy.

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