Raiders reaping rewards of culture change
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has praised his players for buying into his ethos following Canberra's near-perfect 54-4 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Sunday afternoon.
Having enjoyed a glittering career as a player for the Raiders in the 1980s and '90s, Stuart knows better than most what it takes to achieve success in the nation's capital.
The Raiders are flying high in third place on the Telstra Premiership on the back of a record-breaking 50-point win over the Rabbitohs – their fifth victory in a row this season – but their coach isn't getting too far ahead of himself.
Stuart said Canberra's surge in form had come as no surprise given their ability to execute the game plan he and his coaching staff have brought to the club.
"I'm very fortunate that the boys are buying in, and that's a big thing," Stuart said.
"If you've got players buying into your culture, if you've got players buying into your plan and believing in it [then you're on the right track].
"Dean Pay with our defence, and Mick Crawley with our attack, they're wonderful coaches and they're doing a wonderful job.
"The boys love being coached by them and those two guys deserve a lot of credit because they're really helping to get this team where we're at, at the moment."
Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker said the players were initially apprehensive of what Stuart would do when he took over at the club at the start of the 2014 season after he cleaned out the roster at his time with the Parramatta Eels.
But instead of fearing their new coach, Croker said he and his teammates embraced the new ethos and the results were starting to pay dividends.
Known for their attacking prowess over the years, the Green Machine have combined razzle-dazzle with steely defence in 2016 to sit seven points behind the table-topping Sharks and Storm, incidentally their next two opponents.
"It's obviously something that had to happen," Croker said when asked about the club's culture change.
"I know when 'Stick' came in there were a lot of boys who were a bit worried about it, but he's come in and he's really brought the spirit and the history back into the club.
"It's something the guys have really enjoyed doing. We have a lot of functions and a lot of events and little dinners and stuff where we get a lot of old players in, and I know the old players love it just as much as the boys love having them in there.
"Little stuff like that, and being proud to wear the green jersey, I know everyone at the club is proud to pull that jersey on, and Stick's really brought that back. It's a pleasure to play for him."