Ricky Stuart wants to see out his coaching career in Canberra, after signing a two-year contract extension with the NRL club.
The Raiders agreed to keep the former champion halfback on until at least the end of the 2018 season, believing he is the man to return them to their glory days.
Stuart’s original deal expired at the end of next year, but the board didn’t want to wait any longer in the hope of bringing stability to a club in transition.
“When you’re trying to rebuild a club, rebuild a roster, having faith and trust and respect from those who are above you is a wonderful feeling and it just lets you get on with your job,” Stuart said on Wednesday.
“I’m always confident in what I do, and stability is a big part of it.”
The Raiders have won just 18 of the 48 matches played under Stuart since he arrived in 2014 and haven’t made the finals since 2012.
But his push to recruit big names Blake Austin, Aiden Sezer and Joey Leilua has seen the Green Machine improve markedly and was largely behind his contract extension.
The club narrowly missed out on the finals this year, finishing 10th – up from second-last in 2014.
Stuart, who coached the Sydney Roosters, Cronulla and Parramatta before joining the Raiders, said he never intended his stay in the nation’s capital to be short-term.
“I’m probably the most experienced coach in the NRL in regards to rebuilding; it’s basically been my life as a coach,” he said.
“I came back to try and make this club proud of what we can achieve and I believe we’re on the right track.
“I’ve got a very very good feeling about the future for this club.
“Every moment that I’m awake, I’m putting everything into the Canberra Raiders to be successful.”
Stuart said no fan wants to be told to be patient, but when a team is rebuilding, it was key.
His aim for 2016, as it always has been, is to make the top eight for a crack at the premiership – and he feels the Raiders are heading in that direction.
Raiders chairman Allan Hawke said the board never had any doubt about holding onto Stuart, who he believes is the one to lead Canberra back to their glory days.
“He’s delivered the goods already in what he’s done in the short time that he’s been here,” he said.
“And I’ve got no doubt that he will deliver success for us on the field.”
Hawke said it’ll be up to Stuart to decide when he’ll end his time as head coach, but plans are in place for him to stay on as an administrator in some capacity.
The Raiders also announced a two-year sponsorship deal with Denman Project.