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'Some coaches just aren’t coachable': The torturous rollercoaster ride of being a Raiders fan

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Roar Rookie
10th June, 2024
10

Ricky Stuart is a dual international and has won premierships as a player and coach. He has coached NSW and Australia and is one of the most decorated individuals in the sport.

My friend Louis on the other hand feels proud of himself when he takes the stairs instead of the elevator. Apart from a brief career as a plugging front-rower in the Tuggeranong Vikings Under-12s, he’s never laced on a boot. But none of that matters. He usually knows exactly when Ricky is doing the right thing and what to tell him when the Raiders are losing.

But right now he’s conflicted. The Raiders are sitting in the top eight but with a -37 points differential. The first part about being in the eight is good news. But for Louis, the -37 is a bit like a can of baked beans sitting next to the Black Forest cake at Friday morning tea. It stands out but not in a good way.

It’s easy being a fan coach of the Panthers. You can approve of everything Ivan Cleary does because he wins, and it’s exactly what you as a fan coach would have done. It was also easy being the fan coach of the Rabbitohs. Jason Demetriou was losing because he did nothing right. He didn’t listen to you and where is he now?

But spare a thought for Louis. Whether the Raiders are going well or not is unclear. They are in the eight but their for and against suggests they shouldn’t be. This leaves Louis a consistently conflicted fan coach. He’s not quite sure what to do about it.

Picture this. We are at a home game. Tapine crashes over the try-line under the posts after five consecutive Raiders have bashed into the same spot. The scene looks like the aftermath of a train crash because the whole of the defensive line has ended up there and Tapine has to be excavated from under their bodies.

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“There you go”, says Louis. “Ricky knows what he’s doing. Jack Gibson said rugby league is a simple game for simple people. Ricky understands that. His forwards look like earthmoving equipment. Use them that way. That’s why we’re in the eight.” He takes a bite of his pie, approvingly.

“You know NFL players? They have to learn stacks of plays. There’s a whole playbook. Not needed here. Ricky’s got it right. Aim for the space between the goal posts, put your head down and hit that spot. Backs too. The whole team does it. It works. Simple? It works,” he says confidently. “Ricky is doing the right thing.”

 (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Later in the game, the Raiders are behind. They’ve thrown five consecutive plays at the same spot in the defensive line. There’s a cluster of defenders under the goal posts. They throw the ball out wide to Matthew Timoko. He runs straight back into the same spot in the defensive line and gets nailed short.

“What are they doing?“ cries Louis. “What’s the point of running at the same spot in the line all the time? On the last tackle? Ricky’s bloody hopeless. No imagination, no creativity. They have one play in their playbook. And that’s it. No wonder we’re -37.”

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