Ricky Stuart remains interested in coaching the NSW State of Origin team next year despite his imminent return to the NRL coaching ranks with Parramatta.
Stuart is set to be unveiled as the new Eels coach this week, his manager John Fordham indicating on Sunday a deal with Parramatta officials is all but done.
Fordham said Stuart’s desire to coach NSW had not been a topic of their negotiations but his client still wanted to coach at State of Origin level.
“As it stands at the moment the (NSW) policy effectively rules Ricky out of coaching State of Origin,” Fordham said.
“If he is going to coach an NRL club he cannot coach NSW.
“But if that was to change it would be a discussion we would be interested in having.
“It is something for NSW officials to decide. And if they do decide to change it we would be interested in talking but that is something that will be further down the road.”
Whether Parramatta would be prepared to lose Stuart for the State of Origin period remains to be seen. But Fordham said that hadn’t been a part of negotiations.
“It hasn’t really been a factor in our discussions with Parramatta which are at an advanced stage,” he said.
“We are moving towards a contract situation. I have had further discussions with Parramatta CEO Bob Bentley today and it is still a matter of dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s.
“I am expecting to see some paperwork tomorrow.”
NSWRL General Manager Geoff Carr was in contact with Stuart over the weekend regarding the Blues coaching position, but refused to comment on whether NSW officials were considering altering their recently implemented policy of having a coach without NRL club commitments.
“Yes we’ve spoken, but I can’t elaborate on the fact I’ve spoken to Ricky,” Carr said.
The main candidates for a NSW vacancy would include former players Laurie Daley, Trent Barrett and Brad Fittler, who all have experience coaching at representative level.
Parramatta’s under-developed potential as an NRL powerhouse and the club being a good fit for his family are understood to be key factors in Stuart’s decision to join the Eels on a long-term deal.
Fordham told AAP Stuart was keen on rebuilding Parramatta into the proud club it once was.
“It is a great opportunity for Ricky,” he said.
“Parramatta is a very strong club with a vast network of resources that includes a large junior rugby league.
“Ricky regards his family as the highest priority in his life and does not want to uproot them (to a non-Sydney club).”
Fordham said Parramatta and Stuart were likely to formally announce his position as Stephen Kearney’s successor at the Eels in the coming days.
“We are moving towards that,” he said.
“It is moving in that direction, but further discussions do need to take place. That might take a day or two.”