Good luck unravelling all this!
Canberra face an injury toll as crippling as any time in Ricky Stuart’s coaching career but the Raiders mentor insists his team can’t be written off in 2020.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has a simple message: “I don’t give a s**t”.
The Raiders’ injury crisis deepened on Saturday night, with co-captain Josh Hodgson becoming the fifth first-choice Canberra forward ruled out long-term.
The Raiders captain has likely played his last game of the year, as Canberra await scans that they expect will confirm a season-ending ACL tear.
It comes after the Raiders released three forwards just before the competition’s restart to ease their salary cap situation.
Saturday night’s 20-14 loss to Melbourne was Canberra’s fourth loss in six games, and they have a grand final rematch with the Sydney Roosters on Thursday night.
But after jumping to joint title favouritism in Round 3, Stuart doesn’t care if people now want to claim his team can’t repeat their 2020 run.
“I don’t give a s**t,” Stuart said.
Asked what he would say to his players to stop them dropping their heads, Stuart said: “They won’t have their heads down, I promise you.
“After that effort (against Melbourne) and losing one of our key players.
“If we lost every other game this season with that effort tonight, I would be a happy coach.
“That’s all I ask, is to keep turning up and give that effort.”
Stuart was left frustrated by a crucial sin-bin call, with winger Bailey Simonsson walked after jostling with Josh Addo-Carr while chasing a kick.
Simonsson only appeared to have eyes for the ball, but with him off the field Addo-Carr scored down his wing on the very next set.
“I thought we attacked very well in slippery conditions. Defensively we were good,” Stuart said.
“It was three tries each, and they scored a try while we had 12 men on the field. It shouldn’t have been 12 men on the field.
“It shouldn’t have happened. It was wrong calls from people who shouldn’t be making wrong calls.”
Meanwhile, Stuart will likely call upon Tom Starling to fill Hodgson’s role at hooker for the rest of the year, with Siliva Havili to remain a bench utility.
While on the lookout for back up props, Stuart is prepared to put his trust in Starling who has not played any 13-a-side game since March at any level.
“Tommy Starling is our back-up hooker,”
“We’ve got a lot of faith and trust in Tommy. He hasn’t played a lot of first grade because of the guys in front of him.
“But he will come in now.
“I will keep looking to buy and keep looking to get new faces in. Because I have four (big men) out long-term.”
Canberra’s forwards woes
Josh Hodgson (knee) – likely season
Sia Soliola (facia fracture) – season
Emre Guler (ankle) – Roundd 17
Corey Horsburgh (foot) – Roundd 20
John Bateman (shoulder) – indefinite
Luke Bateman – released
JJ Collins – released
Jack Murchie – released