As Ricky Stuart spoke publicly for the first time on the eve of his return from his historic ban, the Raiders coach hailed his “big family” and “absolutely wonderful group of friends”.
The NRL hit Stuart with a $25,000 fine and a one-week ban after he unleashed a devastating spray on Panthers playmaker Jaeman Salmon in round 21, calling him a ‘weakly gutted dog’ during of his post-match press conference.
After serving the first such ban in NRL history, Stuart will return to his regular duties on Wednesday as the Raiders prepare for a clash with the Knights at Newcastle on Sunday.
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He was adamant when Danny Weidler on 9News asked him what he learned from his week off.
“I have an amazing family and I have an absolutely wonderful group of friends, a group of buddies. I love them even more now,” Stuart said.
“I’ve certainly found that when you’re going through a period of adversity, you definitely know who your friends and supporters are. That’s something I’ve learned this week.
“To have friends, you have to be a friend.”
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Stuart’s outburst was sparked by Salmon kicking Raiders hooker Tom Starling in the groin in Canberra’s 26-6 loss to Penrith.
A reporter asked Stuart about the incident and the veteran coach went wild.
Left field response to dejected Ricky rant
He said he would handle the situation differently if given another chance, but he couldn’t put his finger on what he would do.
“Who knows? You know how I am,” he said.
“But it’s behind me now, mate. I said what I said. Behind me now.
“I just have to get back to work.”
The Raiders beat the Dragons 24-22 to keep their final hopes alive during Stuart’s one-week suspension.
“I was very confident that we were going to win this weekend,” said Stuart.
“We should have won more.”
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