As Ricky Stuart spoke publicly for the first time on the cusp of his return from his historic ban, the Raiders coach gave a shout-out to his “great family” and “absolutely wonderful group of friends”.
The NRL hit Stuart with a $25,000 fine and one-week suspension after he unleashed a withering spray at Panthers playmaker Jaeman Salmon in round 21, labelling him a “weak-gutted dog person” in his post-match press conference.
After serving the first ban of its kind in NRL history, Stuart will on Wednesday resume his usual duties as the Raiders steel themselves for a clash with the Knights in Newcastle on Sunday.
He was emphatic when asked by Danny Weidler on 9News what he’d learned from his week off.
“I’ve got a great family and I’ve got an absolutely wonderful group of friends, group of mates. I love them even more now,” Stuart said.
“I’ve certainly found that when you’re in a bit of a time of adversity you certainly know who your friends and your supporters are. That’s one thing I’ve learned this week.
“To have friends you’ve got to be a friend.”
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Stuart’s outburst was sparked by Salmon kicking Raiders hooker Tom Starling in the groin during Canberra’s 26-6 loss to Penrith.
A reporter asked Stuart about the incident and the veteran coach let loose.
He said he’d handle the situation differently if given another chance, but couldn’t put his finger on what he’d do.
“Who knows? You know what I’m like,” he said.
“But it’s behind me now, mate. I said what I said. Behind me now.
“I’ve just got to get back to work.”
The Raiders pipped the Dragons 24-22 to keep their slim finals hopes alive during Stuart’s one-week suspension.
“I was very confident that we’d go out there and win on the weekend,” Stuart said.
“We should have won by more.”
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