Will Ricky stick to plan in Canberra?

SO Ricky Stuart has agreed to coach the Canberra Raiders for the next three years, but seriously, who is surprised?

This is yet another chapter in the on-going instability in some NRL clubs and is, quite frankly, a stain on the code.

Players jumping in and out of contracts is one thing - coaches doing the same is much more serious and destabilising.

But the question mark over this latest move is whether Stuart is in fact jumping from the frying pan in to the fire.

Sure Parramatta is a basket case, on and off the field, but is Canberra any better? And is the volatile Stuart the man to fix the problems at the Raiders?

I understand that when Stuart went to the Eels he had not selected the playing roster. But during the year he culled and recruited and, as a result, has left a raft of unanswered questions.

For instance, does Jarryd Hayne have a clause in his contract that he becomes a free agent if Stuart is not coach? And how does former Bronco Corey Norman stand? He signed with the Eels to be coached by one of the best halves to have played our game.

Is Will Hopoate, fresh from a two-year Mormon Mission, still as upbeat about joining the Eels next season, and does he also have a get-out clause? And will Wigan forward Lee Mossop still travel halfway round the world to join what is a circus?

Surely these blokes now have the right to break a contract, just as the coach has done.

Courageous Titans

GOLD Coast may have finished out of the eight for the fifth time in their seven NRL seasons, but there was much to like about their courage in 2013.

The Roosters and Storm, already in the top four, may have taken their foot of the accelerator against the Titans in rounds 25 and 26, but even so their understrength opponents were sensational in both away games.

In various clashes throughout the season they looked like champions - in others they were chumps. Discipline was a big issue, and they didn't win too many friends among the refereeing ranks, and injuries hampered them critically.

In 2013, 21 players missed a total of 150 games.

But maybe the most heartening aspect was the manner in which 123kg wrecking ball Dave Taylor finished the season. In their final two games he was unstoppable, unveiling the skill, power and speed those of us who have watched him for close to a decade know he possesses.

The dilemma now facing the coach is whether he has discovered the right button to push, or was the two-match streak merely a whim.

Privacy, please

ONE of the reasons I finished my seven-year tenure as communications manager at the Broncos in 2006 was that the media had become far too intrusive. Under a constant microscope as a one-town team, the players were afforded literally no privacy.

In the seven years since, with the explosion of social media, that scrutiny has become more intense. While the players have no option but to live with that spotlight on them, it is a stressful strain on their day-to-day lives.

Admittedly, there is the argument they are in the public eye because they are newsworthy. And the reason they are newsworthy is because the sport they play is popular and the financial rewards they reap are directly related to that popularity.

But surely, when a team's season is over, the media can allow the players some slack. Following them like spies on Mad Monday this week, cameras trained on their every move, is way over the top. And it is unfair.

I disagree that Mad Monday celebrations have no place in the game. These guys have been in a strict training regimen since last November and when their season is over they deserve to let off steam. It is a part of being a team member.

And while some will be idiots, that is more a reflection of the behavioural habits of young men than of rugby league players. We hear about the sporting mayhem because the media makes an

issue of it.

Sneaking around the streets of Sydney, snapping photos of players without shirts, and using long lenses to reveal scantily-clad women on boats with players may be titillating to some, but is it newsworthy?

More to the point, is it fair?



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