A fed up Ricky Stuart has appealed to referees to let Canberra play the exciting brand of rugby league that’s made them a success in 2016 against Melbourne in Saturday’s NRL grand final qualifier.
Constant talk of the Storm’s ruck tactics and rule interpretations in the build-up to the clash at AAMI Park has irked the Raiders’ coach, who says referees boss Tony Archer is the one who needs to address concerns.
The minor premiers’ wrestling style has been in the spotlight this week, following alleged complaints that three North Queensland players were injured as a result.
“I’m getting a bit fed up with all the talk about the wrestle and all the talk about the 10m (rule),” Stuart said before flying on Wednesday to Melbourne.
“They’re questions for the ref – they’re questions for Tony.
“I’d rather talk about football.”
While happy with the way officials allowed last weekend’s semi-finals to flow, Stuart was less than impressed at how his side’s qualifying-final loss to Cronulla had been handled.
“Cronulla showed everyone how to play us – stand at eight metres, don’t listen to the ref, jump early and scrag the crap out of us on the ground,” he said.
“Do you want to play the game in an octagon, or do you want to play it in a football field and have a spectacle?
“That’s a question for referees – that’s not a question for me.”
Stuart is yet to meet Archer this week, and won’t say whether he will before the Raiders’ preliminary final.
“No one’s after preferential treatment, but we just want a game of football that’s interpreted to the rules – standing back 10m, making a tackle and getting back,” he said.
Stuart stood by his declaration at the club’s presentation on Monday night that the Raiders could beat the Storm and go on to win this year’s grand final for their first premiership in 22 years.
“I’m very confident, but we’ve got one game standing in front of us right now that is a major, major obstacle,” he said.
Canberra have won three of their past four matches in Melbourne, but the former champion halfback reckons that won’t stand for much.