Stuart praised for Mounties success
Mounties Intrust Super Premiership coach Steve Antonelli has praised Raiders mentor Ricky Stuart for his work in ensuring a positive relationship between the two clubs.
The ISP, Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield deciders will all be played at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday afternoon and Canberra's feeder club the Mounties will feature in all three fixtures.
Mounties in fact were the minor premiers in all three competitions, a feat not achieved in over three decades.
While Antonelli was firm in his stance that it'll mean nothing if the Mounties don't win he credited Stuart for his help behind the scenes.
"Ricky's right behind the relationship. He checks on his blokes every week who come back and play for the Mounties from the NRL. He relies on me a lot for feedback," Antonelli said.
"If you didn't have a successful feeder club than a lot of NRL clubs would struggle and it's an extension that people don't see. All the little things [Stuart] does on the inside, people only see the outside picture.
"We have a great culture there because the Mounties are close to an NRL side in terms of professionalism and the way we run it. That's how we try to be anyway.
"That's why it's good for the Canberra blokes. They enjoy coming back because of how professional it is. I think you have to be if you want to be successful."
Antonelli has spent the past two seasons working at the Raiders despite his family remaining put in Sydney.
Staying in the nation's capital from Monday to Thursday to help bridge the gap between the NRL and reserve grade sides, Antonelli is making plenty of sacrifices in his quest to attain a dream gig in the first-grade coaching ranks.
The influence of regular first-graders Shaun Fensom, Jarrad Kennedy, Jeff Lima, Sam Williams, Adam Clydsdale and Paul Vaughan at the Mounties in 2016 has helped his cause.
"It's been a privilege for me to coach blokes like that. They have such a good attitude. Blokes like Shaun Fensom and Jarrad Kennedy are excellent players to have in your team," Antonelli said.
"They have never kicked stones. Shaun Fensom's attitude is probably the best out of the lot of them. Him, Jeff Lima and Jarrad Kennedy.
"Jarrad's been there all year and last year he played 23 NRL games. Guys like that are the rocks in my side at the moment.
"You have to keep them happy. If they're happy, they'll play good footy."