When Canberra coach Ricky Stuart talks, his players listen.
And coach and squad are hoping his latest dressing down can whip them back into shape after two NRL drubbings.
Stuart was embarrassed by the Raiders’ 40-16 loss to Cronulla on Sunday and didn’t hold back in his post-match review in the sheds at GIO Stadium.
It followed a similarly poor performance against Parramatta, who beat them 36-6 a week earlier.
Both matches were a far cry from their stunning 22-8 victory over Canterbury the previous round.
Playmaker Sam Williams said Stuart’s brutal but fair assessment of the game on Sunday left the team stinging but admitted it was something the Raiders needed to hear.
“It’s not like he’s gone out there and given us a spray – it was just honest,” he said.
“He’s an honest bloke, Ricky, and that’s the best part about him – he’s up front. Whether you’re going well or going poorly, he lets you know where you’re at and that’s all you can ask from a coach.
“We cop it on the chin and move on.”
Stuart could only think of about five players who performed well against the Sharks, including winger Jordan Rapana and centre BJ Leilua.
In response, he’s named an extended bench for Saturday’s home clash with the Wests Tigers – putting his forwards on notice with the addition of Clay Priest, Mitch Barnett and Jarrad Kennedy.
Williams said the finger couldn’t be pointed at any one player, and did not want to blame his fledgling partnership with recruit Aidan Sezer.
The 25-year-old Williams has been called in to replace Blake Austin four times already this season, with the star five-eighth injured again with a hamstring issue.
“It’s just about going out there with a good, positive, aggressive attitude,” Williams said.
“It’s round seven, and we’ve got an opportunity to turn it around this weekend.”
The Raiders will face an equally desperate Tigers outfit, who’ve lost five games in a row.
Williams is wary of how dangerous the joint venture can be, led by James Tedesco.
“He’s certainly a danger man for them,” he said.
“He has shown at the start of this competition that he’s one of the best fullbacks in the game. As a team, we need to make sure we try and nullify how good he can be.”