June 22, 2021

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'Shocked' Ricky's next move after wife spray

7 min read
NRL great PAUL GALLEN will appear on Nine's 100% FOOTY on Monday night, debating rugby...

NRL great PAUL GALLEN will appear on Nine's 100% FOOTY on Monday night, debating rugby league's hottest topics alongside Brad Fittler and James Bracey. Tune in from 9.50pm AEST, following all the action of Round Nine!

It's a total surprise to me that the Canberra Raiders are where they are on the NRL ladder – currently in 12th spot.

Winning three of their first four games is the only reason they're not right at the bottom, after losing their past five in a row. They're definitely in a hole at the moment.

Ricky Stuart, I'm sure, knows all the issues in his team. He's pretty across all his players, Ricky, and I don't think there'd be anything untoward going on there; backstabbing, or things going on in the background that he doesn't know about.

Knowing Ricky, all the cards would be on the table, from the Josh Hodgson situation to all the others. He's very upfront and honest, as he likes his players to be as well.

One thing I know about Ricky: if you're upfront and honest with him, no matter what's going on in your life and no matter where you're at, he'll support you. But if you lie to him, your relationship can end pretty quickly.

There's no doubt that Ricky is the man to turn it around. I don't see any issues in that respect. The Raiders have been highly successful under him in recent seasons and it's still only nine rounds into this year.

The crack at Ricky and his coaching staff from Kirsten Tapine was a bit out there. It was just frustration, I suppose, setting in even beyond the playing group. At least there's a bit of care there.

It wasn't the ideal thing to do, for the Tapines or for the club. I'm sure that they've paid the price, copped some backlash, with the way that social media works. And that's where the comment was made, on social media. It just goes to show how dangerous it can be when misused.

Hopefully now, everyone can move on. Knowing Ricky, he may have been a bit annoyed at it at first. It may even have shocked him a bit, as it did everyone.

But I don't think that it would be an issue with him going forward, or for Tapine. It's not as though he's not going to pick Tapine because of that, it won't affect his future at the club. He'll get over it pretty quickly.

Ricky would have fast addressed it. I reckon he would have had Tapine in the office to talk through it – if not the missus, as well! I reckon there's a fair chance he would have got both of them in there to nut it out. He may not have even gotten them in the office, he probably would have taken them out to breakfast or something.

That's what Ricky's like. He would have seen it, it would have shocked him, then he would have addressed it straight away to make sure everything's OK going forward.

While it's a regrettable situation, especially for Tapine's wife, you've just got to learn a lesson and move on.

Tapine is a player who can be one of the best back-rowers in the competition some weeks but then others, he has quiet games. That's been his whole career.

I think he's a fantastic player, I really do. But it's not unusual for me to see him be the best player on the field one week, then not really see him much at all the next.

That's been the history of his career, in my opinion, though he's certainly not the only Canberra player who's underperformed so far this season.

I thought Josh Papalii was much better on the weekend after a tough start to the season, where he's been benched and even rested. Jack Wighton has shocked me a bit, he's just not in form at the moment.

Wighton is a guy who I never thought dipped in and out of form, he was always just a great player. Yet he was one player who missed a tackle that led to a try on the weekend against Newcastle.

It's all very un-Canberra-like. Very unlike these players who aren't at their best.

George Williams is a really hard one. The way that Canberra have invested in English players has worked really well for them but now, those guys can't even go home in the off-season to see their families.

You couldn't plan for COVID. No one in the world could. Yet here we are with another difficult impact, homesickness, at a club with multiple English players.

It's a professional sport. These guys are getting paid big money to be professional sportsmen and do the job for the team. I imagine that's the attitude that Ricky would have, while also supporting his player.

Perhaps Williams won't be here past the end of this season but for now, he's got to play his part in turning the team around.

As a whole, the Raiders are in a rut and these are the hard ones to get out of, when everyone's on your back.

Everyone needs to improve individually but it's not an individual sport, it's a team sport. This is where coaching comes into it, plus how much each player wants to do it for the team. How much every person in the group wants to turn it around.

Are they just cooked from a few big seasons? Have they just had enough for now? They've had pretty much the same roster for a while, so are they hitting the wall? They're big questions that need to be answered.

As individuals, they all need to improve. They're great players and there's too much talent in that side to be struggling like this. But you can't go on the field worrying about yourself, or you don't do the right thing by the team and the result doesn't go your way.

This is where you really need to break things down. Focus on getting little wins at training through the week. Really concentrate on your individual role within the team. Then when you get to game day, execute. Break the game down to 10 or 20 minute lots, even, then try to win those periods and move on to the next.

At the moment, they seem to be winning the first half and then capitulating in the second. It's very noticeable that they're falling apart at the back end of the game. The old 'Faders' nickname is getting a run again.

Now it's been happening for a month and everyone's talking about it, it gets in your head. You might be winning by 18-20 points, yet all of a sudden the opposition score in the second half and a little voice says, 'Here we go again'.

That's probably really putting them off at the moment. That's where you just have to worry about your next five or 10 minutes. Forget about everything else.

If you win two or three games in this comp, you rise pretty quickly. Before the weekend, second-last place was one win off eighth spot and last place was only two wins back. From seventh spot down now, every team has a negative for-and-against.

String some wins together and it's wide open. And one thing about this Raiders team is that they have plenty of talent in that side to click at some stage.

Gus said last week on 100% Footy that the competition was already down to two teams, Melbourne and Penrith. I questioned him on it – it's a big call, when a week is such a long time in rugby league.

But at this point in time, there's no one else, seriously. They are just leaps and bounds in front of everyone else, especially with the terrible injuries that the Roosters have had.

We're only coming into Round 10, so there's a long, long way to go. The Storm and Panthers have both still got to get though an Origin period; some or their biggest stars will be in both sides, without a doubt.

We absolutely would have expected Canberra to be a finals team before the season began. They still can be if they follow Ricky and sort out their problems.

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