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REACTION: 'They don't trust coaches' Stuart angry at independent doctor call, Ciraldo 'confused too' at player removal, Latrell set for PCL scan

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4th March, 2023
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Raiders coach Ricky Stuart is not a fan of independent doctor after having two players assessed for head injuries during their 19-18 loss to the Cowboys on Saturday night and feels the NRL and Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) “don’t trust coaches”.

“Do you think I’d let a player play if they had a concussion or is concussed?” asked Stuart during the post-match press conference.

“I don’t just trust the players’ comments when they come to the sideline in regards to that.”

While Stuart agreed with Corey Harawira-Naera being taken off for an assessment he argued about fullback Sebastian Kris, saying he wasn’t showing any symptoms to warrant being checked.

“When he’s [Kris] down getting his leg attended to and I ask him and there was no fatigue and no pain in his eyes in regards to when he came off, he was very coherent,” Stuart said.

“That didn’t help us in that game. That’s where I talk about toughness [of the team in that game], there was two of them.

“Yep OK, Corey may have had the H.I.A. We had to serve two players there in very important positions for 30 minutes in that game. But the RLPA, they don’t trust coaches.

“All they want to do is come talk to me about how much more time off the players are going to get and how much more money.”

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While Cowboys coach Todd Payten admitted in his post-match press conference that he likes “if you lay down and try to milk a penalty then you have to come off” he also said that “the NRL have made the changes based on lack of trust and I’m happy to continue with that.”

Despite the final scoreboard reading 19-18 in favour of the Cowboys, Stuart was very proud of his side for not only their heroics in defence but for also clawing their way back to 18-all.

Knowing that the margin could have been much wider given the attacking flare of the Cowboys in the first half, Canberra showed determination and resilience that should put them in good stead for the season ahead, and Stuart was full of praise for his troops.

“I know they’ve got the heart in them and the guts. If we didn’t use so much juice in the first half, we win that match.

“That defence tonight, being game one of the year…….we’ve had some great defensive moments over the years…..tonight equals it.

“That was an unbelievable defensive effort.

“The way we fought back, I’m very proud.”

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Ciraldo ‘confused too’

Cameron Ciraldo has added his voice to those questioning the decisions of the independent doctor in the Bunker after Jacob Kiraz was taken off the field at a crucial juncture of the Bulldogs’ 31-6 loss to Manly.

Kiraz looked bemused as the touch judge told him to leave for a HIA with Manly set to drop out from under their own posts and the scores tied at 6-6.

In the time that he was off, the Sea Eagles broke down the wing on which he would have been stationed, creating an opportunity from which Kyle Flanagan was binned for a professional foul, and then scored moments later in the same corner.

It is the second time in as many days that the independent doctor has come under fire, with Kalyn Ponga taken off with the game on the line in Friday’s early kick off between Newcastle and the Warriors.

Ciraldo said neither he nor Kiraz knew what was going on.

“I was confused too, because I didn’t see him get knocked,” said Ciraldo after the match.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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“Obviously someone picked it up. We were in a good spot, we had them on their line and we were looking pretty good, so for that change to happen with a lot of confusion around it, we didn’t handle that real well. 

“I haven’t seen the incident where he got hit yet, he might have got a big knock on his head but he was clearly fine. It made things hard for us, but it is what it is and they’re the rules. We have to be better at managing that period there.”

Ciraldo said he did not spot the Flanagan binning, which was for a push on Tom Trbojevic as he raced for the ball following a Reuben Garrick kick. Contact was minimal and the decision borderline.

“I only saw it on the little screen, but I didn’t think he was going to go to the sin bin,” said the coach.

“We didn’t handle it real well, we let in two tries in that period. That was disappointing for us. We could have handled it better when he was off.”

Flanagan was fuming with the call. “I was definitely quite disappointed about the call,” Flanagan told AAP. “I won’t elaborate on it too much, but I thought it was minimal contact. Definitely surprised, spending 10 minutes off the field. It’s not the result we wanted.”

Latrell set for PCL scan, Graham faces ban

In the late game, Souths defeated Cronulla but might pay a price, with three key players facing injury clouds.

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Tevita Tatola was concussed early on and must enter protocols ahead of the Bunnies’ trip to Penrith on Thursday night, while Jai Arrow also departed early with a hamstring complaint.

Latrell Mitchell also had a knee iced, but coach Jason Demetriou said the extent of the problem was unknown.

“He’s got a bit of an issue with his PCL, but we’ll get it checked,” said the coach.

Craig Fitzgibbon focussed on the refereeing, with a second half sin bin for Wade Graham a major talking point.

Graham collected Davvy Moale with a spectacular hit, only for the Bunker to intervene two plays later and recommend a yellow card.

“Live, it looked spectacular and because it was playing on, you don’t get to stop and analyse it,” he said. “It’ll be what it’ll be, it was either high or it wasn’t. It looked spectacular but he said it looked like it was pretty high.

“We’re powerless to decide that. It’ll either be high or it’s not. In real time, we don’t get analyse because everything’s so quick.”

Captain Dale Finucane added that his co-captain was only attempting to shift the momentum.

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“I was on the sideline just waiting to come on, but I thought the hit looked really good, but I wasn’t sure that he hit him high,” he said.

“From my first glance at it, I didn’t think it was high, but on review it’ll be black and white whether it was high. 

“With the type of game that it was and the points that we need to make up, Wade was looking to change the momentum and cause a collision to get the ball back for us. Any player in any team would be wanting be doing that.”

Fitzgibbon was reticent to make the game about the referees, but was displeased about a forward pass call in the first hald that denied Sione Katoa a try.

“I’m not going to start it round one on stuff like that, but it’s pretty obvious that it wasn’t,” he said. “I’d be interested their feedback.”

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