Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has called Panthers five-eighth Jaeman Salmon a “weak dog” after he kicked Tom Starling.
Despite their promise to “ambush” the reigning premiers, the Raiders never came close, with Salmon scoring one of four tries for the Panthers in the 26-6 win.
Following his side’s loss, which could see them miss the final, Stuart was asked about a number of incidents in the game, including a bump which saw Joseph Tapine injured, but aimed for Salmon, who was reported for the kick.
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“James Fisher-Harris and Joe Tapine’s tackles are accidents and in this collision game I understand that,” a furious Stuart told reporters.
“But where Salmon kicked Tommy (Starling) it’s not.
“I had a history with this kid (Salmon). I know this kid very well.
“As a kid he was a weak gut dog and he hasn’t changed now. He’s a weak gut dog now.”
Following Stuart’s incredible outburst, Nine’s NRL reporter Danny Weidler spoke to the Raiders coach on the phone and asked if he wanted to apologize or withdraw his statement, to which he replied “a firm no”.
League great Phil Gould called Stuart’s sideline “outstanding” and said: “I’ve never heard a coach say anything like that in a press conference.”
Gould said Stuart’s son played on the same rugby league team as Salmon during the Panthers’ junior days, but was unsure what prompted such a reaction from the veteran coach.
“When Ricky said he’d known this kid for a while, he did,” Gould said during Nine’s NRL coverage.
“Certainly Ricky, on reflection, saying he’s not apologizing and standing by what he said is pretty extraordinary because I’ve never heard a coach say such a thing at a conference. hurry.
“I can’t imagine anything that would make me say something like that at a press conference.
“Ricky is going to have to have a really good reason and I don’t know how he justifies that… I think Jaeman Salmon would have a lawsuit against him for remarks like that.
“I know his team was knocked out tonight and that’s probably the end of their final charge… but he’s too experienced a campaigner to react so emotionally in an environment like the one he’s been in so many times throughout his career. It’s not as much even though he’s a rookie.”
Gould and NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler didn’t think Salmon’s kick to Starling alone was worth such an aggressive response.
“It can happen to anyone at any time,” Gould said of the incident.
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“It’s not uncommon. His foot was stuck between his legs as they stood up and he was trying to get his foot out of there.”
“When I saw the incident I was surprised they stopped the game and Jaeman Salmon got penalized. I just saw someone get sent off,” Fittler added.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary declined to engage in verbal warfare with Stuart, but said he was adamant the kick on Starling was accidental from Salmon.
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“I can’t imagine Jaeman would have deliberately done this, but honestly, I didn’t see it.
“I don’t think I need to respond to those comments (from Stuart). I know what Jaeman is like and he’s valuable at our club and we love him so that’s all that matters to us.”
It remains to be seen if the NRL takes action against Stuart for his outburst.
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