Why Ricky Stuart made the call to quit coaching the NSW Blues
BY Ricky Stuart August 5, 2012
I HAVE always been more comfortable having control over decisions. In rugby league, as coaches know better than anyone else, that’s not always the case.
Over the past fortnight I have been honest about helping NSW with the coaching role for State of Origin for 2013 and beyond and, I must say, there are times I have been stunned by how some experts of the game choose to interpret it.
It was never a position of me trying to sell myself for the job. It was always about setting up the State for the future, similar to what Queensland did after Wayne Bennett’s retirement.
These past few weeks I have been honest in who I think has the capability of taking the team to the next step.
I’ve spoken about a model that could work for an NRL coach to do both job into the future, but people are a little mesmerised at the moment in regard to having a fulltime coach.
It has worked the past two years but, like any business, plan, there’s always room for review.
Mal Meninga is the best coach for Queensland at the moment.
People are saying they believe it is because he is fulltime. They’ve got it backward.
What most don’t realise is Mal has other business interests but can devote an important part of his schedule to Origin. But his work life is not 100 per cent Origin coaching.
I believe NSW has to find the best coach. If that has to be an NRL coach so be it. A club coach with the correct assistance around him can coach State of Origin.
Over the past two years I have been setting up a model and a structure that has worked and is now ready for further advancement. One area Bob Fulton and I have been talking about is setting up a halves academy, an area where we need to create as much talent and depth as possible.
Our initial Blues-In-Waiting squad has been a marvellous success producing 10 debutants in two years.
Our identification, monitoring and enculturation of our juniors _ my word _ has been very, very effective.
Every weekend at our local football grounds I see young players wearing Blues jumpers, asking me how their favourite players are going. Asking me if they’re going to be in Origin next year, still talking origin football today.
We’re starting to get it.
The deliberation about can I or can’t I, the speculation that “he shouldn’t be allowed to do both the NSW job and the Parramatta job”, has made me do a lot of thinking.
For weeks I have been saying that this is not about me, it’s about setting up the future, but everybody wants to look past that and come up with their own theories on my motivations, ignoring what’s in front of them.
And I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m becoming tired of it because I don’t believe that is being heard.
As NSW fans, we need to [itals]believe[end]. We need to trust.
All this swimming through my head is part of the reason why I am stepping down. As of right now, I am no longer the NSW coach.
Yes, it is one of the toughest decisions of my coaching career.
I’ve had a very good working relationship with Geoff Carr and his board. Geoff has long been my side throughout my career as a coach in the representative arena. I’ve always respected his support.
A number of the board are good friends of mine and have ridden the highs and lows with me and the team.
I’ve appreciated them being there with us.
I’d like to assure them we’re in a good place.
As soon as we win two series in a row, not one, but two series in a row, we have the structure and depth of talent coming through to be a dominant state for years to come.
The last two years has brought some of the greatest moments and fun in my coaching career.
I was involved with many fine men.
After appearing on NRL on Fox last Wednesday I drove Cameron Smith to the airport and I told him the joy I had in coaching against his team, that I felt privileged being involved in Origin, that I enjoyed the theatre and the banter I’ve had with my mate Mal.
It’s all part of what Origin delivers and Cameron knows how passionate I am and how disappointed I was not securing that series win that I’ve been after.
And how I’ve loved hating the Queenslanders, in a professional way.
I unashamedly congratulate the Queenslanders on how they passionately and ruthlessly support Origin and their team.
A big part of my life over the last two years has gone now and a new challenge has arrived.
Some say I’ve gone from one unbeatable challenge to another but, after birth, you cannot change your DNA.
My energy, commitment and drive now is to turn Parramatta around and I promise our fans it will be one great ride.
Finally, let me say the Blues are not far away, through the collective input and performance of our players, and also you, our fans.
Changing circumstances has made my time come in my second stint at coaching NSW.
I hope with all my heart there is a third.