Sunday Sports Bet

Blake Austin has been in ridiculously good form for the Canberra Raiders of late and has been scoring tries seemingling at will.  Today the Raiders face the Panthers at Pepper Stadium and with Blake Austin at 5/8th for the Grenn Machine I am tipping him to be the first try scorer.

Bet: Blake Austin to be the first try scorer in the game between Penrith and Canberra kicking off at 2pm.

Price: $13 (via UBet)

As always:

  1. Please gamble responsibly.
  2. All care is taken with tips on this site but no responsibility vests for losses incurred. 

Good luck and good punting! 

Ricky Stuart is fed up? Guess what Ricky: so are Canberra Raiders fans!!!

I have written fulsomely on this blog about the position of Ricky Stuart as coach of the Canberra Raiders.  In the aftermath of another appalling display be the Raiders yesterday Stuart made the following comments in his press conference: 

“Losing two Origin players put us in this rut,” Stuart said.

“We are in a position and they can jump into us and bag us for what it is.

“(But) until I get Origin players in, it’s not going to change and that’s my job. I’ve got to cut to the chase and be fair dinkum.

“Until we grow our own, our fans are going to have to stick solid. I’m getting sick of it and fed-up with give you one-line answers. “As much as it will sound like I’m making excuses, I’m telling it exactly how it is.”

Glossing over the obvious contradiction between Stuart’s alleged need to get Origin players in and the need for the Raiders to “grow our own”, I have to say that this statement from Stuart only goes to enhance my personal call for his removal from the club. 

Here are 3 reasons why: 

  1. Ricky Stuart is getting fed up with giving the press one line answers?  How about being fed up with the way the team is performing Ricky and actually having a plan to rectify the situation.  Week after week our proud jersey is on the field but the players filling it look bereft of direction and a game plan: that is the coaches job and Stuart is not doing it. 
  2. Josh Dugan was removed from the club on 14 March 2013 for numerous breaches of his contract the last which was encapsulated by his open defiance of the then coach.  Frankly, he was a cancer on the club.  Blake Ferguson was removed from the club on 6 September 2013 having been suspended since 17 June 2013 after being charged with indecent assault (a charge on which he was later found guilty).  Before their removal from the club Messrs Dugan and Ferguson had played a grand total of four State of Origin games between them.  Can anyone cogently argue that: a. these players are irreplaceable and b. the removal of such badly behaved players from the club culture was not a good thing? I certainly can not! 
  3. Stuart now seems to be suggesting that until he can attract State of Origin standard talent to the club the club is destined to have seasons like this.  I don’t know about you but if I was one of the plethora of players under contract to the club for 2015 I would be reading that comment this morning over my recovery breakfast and wondering “well what about me?”.  Clearly Stuart has no faith in the players he has to get the job done otherwise why would he state that he needs to attract Origin standard players to win? 

I appreciate Ricky asking me, as a Raiders fan, to “stick solid”.  Thank you for asking to do something that I have done since I was 8 years old and first followed the lime green.  

Now I ask Ricky Stuart to do something for the fans: leave.  I ask this because, by his own statements, he has no faith in our current crop of players and is blaming the current state of affairs on the dismissal of two of the worst behaved players in recent memory from the club.  This mindset is NOT what the Canberra Raiders need and for the good of the club Ricky Stuart can not remain in control. 

Canberra Raiders: We deserve the wooden spoon and heads must roll

I have written previously this year about the position of Ricky Stuart at the Canberra Raiders. I am not going to rehash all of that: the fact is that I do not believe Ricky Stuart is the right man to be coaching Canberra and I will never be convinced otherwise. He is a team destroyer rather than a team builder and until he is no longer in charge of the team I expect no success for the green machine.

That rant about the coach had, I have to say that I had, until Sunday’s game, had hope that from the player group the Raiders possess at the moment the team could at least be competitive this season and avoid the dreaded wooden spoon having never been a recipient of that “prize” in 33 years in the competition.

Nothing I saw though in another Raider’s capitulation, this time against the Warriors, has done anything to suggest any other conclusion than that the Raiders really do not deserve any other result than to receive the wooden spoon. Unlike the Sharks, who have had significant disruption this year through the drugs saga, there is no real cogent excuse that can be made for just how bad the Raiders are in 2014.

Change is needed at the Raiders. That is plain. Ricky Stuart going is just the tip of the iceberg though. On the management side of the business Don Furner has presided over calamitous and embarrassing season in which the results on the field have been coupled with an inability to attract players to the club. He must be replaced.

On the player side, it is hard to see ornaments to the club come to the end of their careers but it is time for some such players including Campese and Tilse to be moved along or quietly retired. When those players go then the Raiders must trust in the U20s coming through rather than seek to replace like with like as Furner has done in previous years.

I have never supported a team other the Canberra Raiders and I never will. It hurts me to see my proud club at such a low ebb. Regardless of the end result of this season changes just have to be made in Canberra. If you need another reason for this, and I will leave this post at this, then have a look at the plethora of empty seats in the ground on Sunday. The fans are not coming to the games and for the fans to come back change must be made. It is the simple.

Postscript: I originally wrote this blog on Sunday afternoon after the Raiders terrible performance against the Warriors. My original draft was much more forceful in my condemnation: this is the calmer draft!

Canberra Raiders: Milford a Bronco … And that means he must go now

The Canberra Raiders released this statement this evening:

Canberra Raiders fullback Anthony Milford has informed the club he will be honouring the deal he made with the Brisbane Broncos and will depart at the end of the 2014 season.

Milford said the decision to leave the club where he developed his game and made his NRL debut was the toughest of his career so far and thanked everyone involved in the Raiders organisation for the opportunities they have given him and the patience they have shown.

“This was a very tough decision for me and my family and I want to thank everyone at the Raiders for everything they have done for me,” Milford said. “I’ve been with the club since I was awarded a scholarship at the age of 13. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Raiders and I will never forget the support they’ve given me.

“I’m 100 per cent committed to the Raiders for the rest of the season and I look forward to helping the team play well for the rest of the year.”

Milford will honour the final year of his current deal with the Raiders and remain with the club until the end of the 2014 season.

Whilst I appreciate the sentiment and the comments of Milford towards the Raiders, I am left to ponder what benefit there is to the club in Milford continuing to play for the Raiders in 2014.

Let’s be plain: the Raiders are in disarray at the moment and a large part of that appears to fall to a player group that is either uninterested or just plain bad (I don’t know which). This is after they got the coaching change they wanted.

Now the club’s members and fans are expected to continue to support a player who has been financially rewarded by the club since he was 13 and who is now leaving. To me that, at best, is a questionable position to be in and, at worst, is just plain wrong.

I make no criticism of Milford or his motives BUT to continue to select him in the top side each week and to continue to develop his game before he leaves is something I can not countenance. In what will be a losing season for the Raiders surely the best option is for Milford to play out his contract with the Raiders’ feeder teams and let a young player actually committed to the club play.

Such a move is also in Milford’s best interests given that the feeder team he would likely play for (Brisbane Souths) is located in the place he so desperately wants to be.

I wrote recently about the tenure of the coach and my keenness to see the Raiders improve as a team: the selection of Milford will make a mockery of that imperative as the only club being improved by him being on the park is the Broncos. It is clearly time for Milford to exit and exit now!

Canberra Raiders: The Ricky Stuart Effect strikes again

When the Canberra Raiders appointed Ricky Stuart as head coach for season 2014 on a long term deal I wrote an open letter to him where I requested the following for this season:

Coach the team to play every game hard and for 80 minutes and drop any player who does not do so.

If a player breaches team rules or is ill disciplined sack him. This includes any infractions related to alcohol. Another “Dugan / Ferguson” fiasco must not be countenanced.

If a player does not wish to play for our club and notes in the media that he wants to move elsewhere sack him. Another situation like that which Anthony Milford has placed the team in must not be countenanced.

Keep the young talent in the under 20s team in Canberra and sign them for the long term.

Still be the coach in 2015.

( )

Off the back of two games in a row where my team has gifted the opposition the victory conceding over 50 points it is pretty clear that the first imperative is not being met by Coach Stuart. That has left me to wonder whether the final imperative I requested is realistic or even wanted by either the club or the fans.

The fact that we are again seeing what I have termed the Ricky Stuart effect with the Canberra Raiders this season. The “effect” is simple: Stuart is not an improver of teams rather he is a destroyer. Look at his record (as I did in this post ) and show me a team he has improved. You will not be able too.

Now consider the Raiders of recent years and compare them to the rabble of 2014: the squad is not that different to previous years but on current form the wooden spoon looks the only realistic outcome. That is certainly a regression for a team that two years ago was 6th on the ladder and in the finals and last year won 10 games. I would be astonished if, on current form, the Raiders win another game.

Few coaches would survive two 50 point thrashings in a row but Ricky Stuart will as he is the teflon man of NRL coaching (imagine if Matt Elliott got the chances Stuart has). That being the case it is ridiculous to suggest that he should be sacked immediately. Equally, as a Raiders fan I have written off this season and, if you haven’t yet, you should too. I have also written off Ricky Stuart as coach for 2015 because I do not want my team to get any worse.

The next coach must be:

1. a leader of men;
2. a winner; and
3. a coach that improves his team.

Are Craig Bellamy or Wayne Bennett available?

Canberra Raiders: The search for a new coach and the Ricky Stuart conundrum

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:

Sydney Roosters:

Games: 130
Wins: 79
Losses: 50

Cronulla Sharks:

Games: 74
Wins: 33
Losses: 41

Parramatta Eels:

Games: 23
Wins: 5
Losses: 18

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.