By David Polkinghorne, Sydney Morning Herald
Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was happy just being one of the nominees, but he was blown away as one of six new additions to the NRL Hall of Fame announced on Tuesday night.
He joins former Raiders teammates Mal Meninga, Bradley Clyde, Laurie Daley, Glenn Lazarus and Steve Walters as the sixth member of the Green Machine inducted.
Petero Civoniceva, Gorden Tallis, Steve Menzies, Cliff Lyons and Mark Graham were the five other inductees.
Stuart found out about the honour on Tuesday morning when he got a phone call from the NRL.
He was one of 25 nominated in April, beating out the likes of former Raiders teammate and current Queensland coach Kevin Walters and NSW Blues advisor Greg Alexander for the honour.
“I got a call this morning making me aware of it, it was a pleasant surprise. I felt very honoured and very privileged,” Stuart told Fairfax Media.
“You don’t play for the individual accolades, it was just a great honour.
“I was honoured to be a part of the 25 nominees so you can imagine how I feel to be now accepted and part of the Hall of Fame. It blew me away this morning, I was thrilled.”
Stuart played in all three of the Raiders’ premierships (1989, 90, 94), and also played nine Tests for Australia and 14 State of Origins for NSW.
He won the Clive Churchill Medal as man of the match in the 1990 grand final, as well as winning the Dally M and Rothmans medals in 1993 as the best player in the competition.
Stuart finished his playing career after 243 games and has since gone on to become a premiership coach, with the Sydney Roosters, as well as coaching the Blues and Kangaroos at representative level.
He’s now back with the club where it all began in 1988, having been part of the Wallabies tour of Argentina the previous year, and he’s been at the Raiders’ helm for the last five seasons.
“I’m very fortunate that now I’m involved with the club that played probably the most integral part of my career as a player and helped me achieve this award,” Stuart said.
Stuart paid tribute to not only the host of stars that he shared the field with, but also his former coach Tim Sheens for the involvement they all had in making him the player he was.
Sheens coached the Green Machine during its golden era of the all three premierships, before going on to guide Wests Tigers to the title in 2005.
Stuart played alongside not only Meninga, tipped to be one of the next Immortals, Clyde, Daley and Lazarus, but also the likes of Walters, Gary Belcher, Brett Mullins, Jason Croker, Ruben Wiki and David Furner – a who’s who in lime green.
“I was very fortunate to play with some great, great players and some of those great names are shown by the fact that several of them are already in the Hall of Fame,” Stuart said.
“I’d to thank my teammates for being a part of this acknowledgement and my coach Tim Sheens, who helped shaped my game and the trust he had in me is part of this type of award.
“We were fortunate we were part of a very rare time in Canberra where we had a very strong team and gave our community a lot of enjoyment through those successful times in a great period for the club.”
Ricky Stuart is managed exclusively by The Fordham Company.