29 July 2022

Ricky Stuart remains the best fit for the Canberra Raiders

| Tim Gavel
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Ricky Stuart

Ricky Stuart lives and breathes and bleeds green. Photo: File.

To a certain extent, Ricky Stuart was the on-field coach of the Canberra Raiders during his 203 first-grade games with the club.

There was many a cold night at Seiffert Oval in the days when players had full-time jobs and trained after work when Stuart’s instructions to his teammates echoed around the ground. He was as enthusiastic then as he is now.

His passion for the club was evident in 1988 as a rookie, although he became more vocal once he established himself in first grade.

Ricky at a Raiders training run

Ricky at a Raiders training run. Photo: Canberra Raiders.

Now in his ninth season as the Raiders coach, he is on the verge of becoming the all-time record holder for the most number of games coached at the Club.

By my calculation, he will break Tim Sheens’ record of 220 games when the Raiders come up against Wests Tigers on 4 September.

It is a moment to be celebrated.

As somebody with strong connections to the Club told me this week, Ricky Stuart has become far more than a coach to the people of Canberra.

The Ricky Stuart mural

The Ricky Stuart mural at the end of Blacksmiths Lane in Queanbeyan. Photo: Supplied.

He stands up for the city and the community. He stands up for his players, and his work in helping establish autism respite centres in the region has become a key factor in his appeal beyond the game. This work needs to be applauded.

Raiders fans love witnessing first-hand the passion he exudes while he lives and breathes every try scored. We watch him make every tackle from the sideline.

He has stated many times that he couldn’t coach against the Raiders.

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News that he has signed a contract extension until the end of the 2025 sends a message of stability as much as anything else.

The majority of players strive for stability. More often than not, it is an important factor, along with money and finals prospects.

But it’s the fans that will benefit as much as everybody else as they hanker for certainty.

We live in a world of players jumping clubs mid-season and coaches getting sacked before the end of the season. It does little to instil confidence.

His contract extension will push his record with the Raiders to about 300 games. Good luck to anyone else considering catching that milestone in these turbulent times!

The contract extension will undoubtedly mean there are plenty of thrills and spills ahead for us all.

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