I have read with dismay a growing wave of rumour and innuendo that Ricky Stuart will leave the Parramatta Eels at the end of the season and sign a contract with the Canberra Raiders for season 2014. As a long time Canberra Raiders fan I can not think of a worse decision those in power at Canberra could make. Here are Stuart’s statistics as an NRL coach:
In both the case of Stuart’s tenure at the Roosters and his tenure at the Sharks, the teams he was coaching got worse over time given that the Roosters went from winning the competition in Stuart’s first year to not making the finals in 2005 and 2006 and the Sharks went from making the preliminary final in 2008 to again being out of the finals in 2009.
Since Stuart has been at the Eels he has, simply put, not been successful and the player moves he has made have not been successful. The Eels will win the wooden spoon this season.
There is a bigger problem for me though: what kind of message does it send to a player group reeling from player behaviour issues and players breaking contracts early to engage a coach who has been in trouble for behavioural breaches (2008 World Cup for example) and who, assuming he makes himself available to coach the Raiders, has broken his last two contracts before they were up.
The Raiders’ players need a coach that they can look up to and aspire to be like and the fans of the club need a coach they can trust after season that has been in 2013. Forget that Stuart is a legend of the club for a moment: the numbers and his conduct just do not stack up to being the coach needed to take the club forward.