Stuart, Raiders riding wave of NRL emotion

We’ve all seen him kick chairs, mouth off, scrunch his face and jump for joy on the sidelines.

But there’s a softer side to Ricky Stuart few get to see.

Behind closed doors, in the sanctity of the Canberra sheds, the NRL coach is often fighting back tears.

It’s especially been the case in recent weeks, en route to the Raiders’ first preliminary final since 1997 against Melbourne on Saturday night.

“After a game, if it’s a good win, he enjoys it and gets a bit emotional,” says skipper Jarrod Croker.

“He’s just passionate. He absolutely loves it.”

Croker and his teammates, though, don’t let him get away with it for long.

As soon as his voice starts to waiver and eyes glisten, the Raiders begin a chant: “Ricky, Ricky …” before breaking out into the Raiders’ team song – The Mighty Green Machine.

“We just give it to him, like one of the boys,” winger Jordan Rapana told AAP.

“I think it’s just more to clear up the awkwardness when he starts getting teary-eyed. We just all make fun of it.

“He just smiles and kicks things around.

“As much as he’s our coach, he’s definitely a real good mate of all of ours and he’s treated like that.”

Fullback Jack Wighton reckons it was Elliott Whitehead who started it, but now the whole team gets involved.

“We all start laughing and tell him to hold it together,” Wighton says.

“He just has a joke with us and it’s a good little laugh.

“He’s an emotional man, that’s why we love him.”

Croker, who considers Stuart a close mate away from football, said he hoped it was a side of the former champion halfback fans and foes alike learn about.

“He loves his family, loves the players, loves the clubs, loves all the boys and I hope everyone realises that now,” the 27-year-old said.

“Hopefully he knows how much we love him back and how much the boys all appreciate it.”

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
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