Ricky Stuart says he’ll leave it up to the NSW rugby league to decide whether he can operate as both Blues coach and Parramatta’s new coach in 2013.
Stuart announced his return to the NRL ranks on Friday, confirming a three-year deal to coach the last-placed Eels out of their current mire.
Asked if he was concerned that Parramatta have churned through five NRL coaches since 2006, Stuart said: “No… because I back myself.”
Stuart admitted he feels unfulfilled at Origin level after NSW came up just short in this year’s series.
It seems he’d like to combine both roles, but will leave it up to NSW officials to decide.
NSW currently have a policy where the coach cannot be connected with an NRL club.
“It hasn’t been offered to me so it’s not a decision for me,” he said.
“I am certainly not walking away from Origin. I loved Origin and I don’t need to explain that.
“This is an opportunity I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity that I’m comfortable with and it’s arrived and I would never say no to it.
“There’s still a part of me that’s empty because I didn’t win. All I wanted to do was win for NSW people, supporters, players, but the decision is not up to me.”
In his debut year as a first-grade coach with the Sydney Roosters in 2002, Stuart won the premiership, and went on to qualify for the next two grand finals.
He also got Cronulla to within one match of the grand final in 2008, before things ended up going sour at the Sharks.
However, after two years out of the pressure-cooker of the NRL, Stuart said he’s excited to be back and isn’t daunted by taking on the Eels role.
“It does feel weird it’s different colours to what I’ve worn the last few years but for anyone who knows me, as soon as I adapt to new colours a new club that’s my club. That’s the way I feel.
“It’s a tough job being a head coach but when it’s in your blood you get excited and I’m really excited about the huge challenge here ahead of me.”
Parramatta chairman Roy Spagnolo said he’s yet to discuss the issue of Origin coaching with Stuart, but didn’t close the door on the possibility his new man could do both.
Stuart said he will meet with Blues officials next week.