Picky gripe over Sticky hype: How will Parramatta fare?
With Ricky Stuart’s possible move to the Parramatta Eels in season 2013, rival clubs also competing for his services may be better off by not luring the NSW Origin coach.
The following compilation of statistics and associated insights bring the coaching career of Ricky Stuart into question.
2002 Premiership, 2003 and 2004 grand finals
Sure, Stuart has tasted premiership success with the Sydney Roosters: albeit a decade ago. The 2002 campaign was lead mostly by experienced, developed players. These were players who knew how to win.
The coach also took the team to the following two grand finals. However, the side was unable to capitalise on their regular season successes – losing to the Panthers and Bulldogs respectively.
It is worth mentioning that the Roosters were in a good position when Stuart took over, having narrowly lost the 2000 grand final to the Brisbane Broncos. During this golden period – where the Roosters made four of five grand finals, was based largely on captain Brad Fittler and the platform built by Stuart’s mentor Phil Gould. As of 2005, these men had left the club.
This left Stuart with an under performing roster flailing hopelessly at the bottom of the NRL ladder, with just eight wins from 24 starts.
Enter Chris Anderson.
Stuart handed over the reigns to the former Melbourne and Cronulla boss in 2006, The plight experienced by the club literally gave Anderson heart concerns. The 1999 premiership winning coach could not halt the downwards spiral of the Bondi based club and he later made way for Fittler.
2007 – 2009: Sticky confirms ‘The Perennial Strugglers’ tag at Cronulla
Stuart arrived at the helm in the shire as of 2007, after coaching 73 games for just 33 wins in the first three seasons of his tenure. 2008, the last time Cronulla reached the NRL finals series, was by far the highlight in Stuart’s coaching career. Cronulla finished equal minor premiers with 38 competition points – before tumbling out of the competition 28-0 to eventual runners up Melbourne.
During this time, the Sharks said goodbye to the likes of Greg Bird, Brett Seymour, Brett Kimmorley, Ben Ross, Danny Nutley, Adam Peek and Isaac De Gois.
Along with these exits, the winning culture and stability at the club also left, as did club sponsors.
Cronulla finished equal last in the 2009 season with just 14 points, finishing ahead of, ironically, the Sydney Roosters, on points differential.
2010: Ricky talks in the third person about Ricky, quits Cronulla.
The ‘marquee’ recruitment of the then 32-year-old Trent Barrett and former Parramatta exile Tim Smith, unsurprisingly failed to cease Cronulla’s losing ways.
The coach held a press conference where it was discussed that “Ricky Stuart needed to do what was best for Ricky Stuart”, calling short his time as Cronulla’s mentor with a year remaining on his contract.
In his final year at the club, the Sharks finished with just seven wins. They were third last, only above the Cowboys and the disqualified Melbourne Storm.
2011 – 2012 : “What’s best” for Stuart still not good enough for NSW
Ricky Stuart has had success outside club coaching. He was the last NSW coach to win a series, taking the Andrew Johns inspired Blues to victory in 2005.
Stuart took over from Craig Bellamy as NSW Origin coach again in season 2011, looking to prevent a sixth straight Origin series loss. NSW went on to lose the series 2-1. The 2012 campaign, while close, also ended in a 2-1 defeat for the Blues.
2013 – What’s changed since 2010?
Superficially it would appear very little, However those in the inner sanctum of Origin have credited Stuart’s works for reinstating belief in NSW’s abilities. There is little doubt that the Blues were much more competitive this year than in previous seasons, however they were still unable to come up with a series victory.
Ricky moved on from the Sharks in order to do what was best for Ricky. Presumably, if he moves to the Eels, his motivation will be the same.
It remains to be seen, however, whether what is good for Ricky, is good for the Eels.