Defiant Stuart refuses to read negatives
Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart refused to dwell on the negatives in his side's 16-14 qualifying final loss to the Sharks, looking at the defeat with a glass-half-full approach.
Stuart said the loss wasn't "gut-wrenching" as members of the media described it in the post-match press conference.
The veteran mentor said the Raiders' journey from now on in was simple: "just win the next one".
Stuart also refused to use Elliott Whitehead's late penalty – which led to James Maloney's match-winning penalty goal in the 76th minute – as an excuse.
"If you want to make it a gut-wrenching loss then you'd probably be heading into next week with a negative attitude. We have to get over it. We have to move into next game," Stuart said.
"All it's done is added another week of football to the schedule for us. I have already spoken to the boys, they have to get over it and we have to move forward [on Sunday].
"We have to get into a healthy frame of mind. We'll fix up our bumps and bruises, and get back into our routine."
Prior to the Raiders' loss on Saturday night, only six of their 17 had featured in finals football in the NRL.
At points it was telling – considering the Sharks' 105 games of finals experience in comparison – but the dewy conditions didn't help the Raiders' cause either.
If gun hooker Josh Hodgson's ankle injury wasn't a turning point in the loss then Sharks prop Matt Prior's try just before half-time certainly was, with the Raiders up 12-0 at the time.
"The try before half-time was soft and we probably let ourselves down in that moment but the conditions probably played a big part," Stuart said.
"It didn't let us play a lot of the footy that we have been playing of late. But that's all about experience and working to the scenarios and environment that you're under."
Canberra five-eighth Sam Williams was one of the Raiders' six players to feature in the finals previously and said it was everything he remembered it being.
"A lot of the boys will learn a little bit. But I think we knew what to expect as well. We spoke about how tough it was going to be all week, how physical and how close it was going to be," Williams said.
"Everyone will take something out of it and hopefully we can go to another level.
"It's just about being positive now. We'll stick together and we'll learn from that game. We'll move forward," he added.
"We're still in this competition. Everyone still believes in this group, it's just about rectifying it next week."
Game on. Data off.
Stream every NRL game, including finals, live and data free with a 2016 Footy Pass, exclusive to Telstra mobile.
Watch all the NRL action live on your compatible tablet or mobile device with data-free streaming on your Telstra mobile plan.
For use in Australia only.