Stuart reaches 100 games as Raiders coach
Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart will reach a milestone this weekend, as he takes charge of the clipboard for the 100th time at the club when the side clashes with the Gold Coast Titans.
Stuart said when he left the Parramatta Eels in 2013, it came after an extremely challenging period at the club.
Just one season into a three-year deal with the Eels that yielded five wins from 24 games, Stuart said the chance to come back to the nation's capital was a chance too good to refuse.
"It was a very easy decision when I found out what was happening at the club here in Canberra," Stuart told NRL.com.
"Coaching is a volatile position and timing is something that can be never predicted when coaching clubs.
"And having that opportunity in front of me, I was very happy to be able to make the most of it."
It's been a roller-coaster for Stuart with the Raiders in recent seasons with the high of a preliminary final berth in 2016 being juxtaposed with 10th last year, in what was seen as a season of missed opportunities.
Throughout it all, Stuart has maintained his reputation of being firm but fair with his playing group.
"I always like to be known as fair and I always like to be known as honest," he said.
"If I've been able to achieve those two traits, I'll sleep easier at night.
"I just find if you've got an honest approach to tough news, it's always hard to deliver; if you got an honest approach to it, the player is better off."
Raiders captain Jarrod Croker said the reputation of Stuart being a prickly character of the game is not always deserved.
"There's a lot of stuff that gets played out in the media that I don't think's true, angry Ricky I don't think's an actual person," Croker said.
"He's quite relaxed and the boys knew it was going to be a big pre-season of about four months but the way the boys have applied themselves, we haven't given him a choice to be angry as everybody has ripped in and he's happy with how we are traveling."
Croker paid tribute to Stuart's profound impact on the club both on and off the field as well as the wider Canberra community since his arrival.
"Stick came to the club and to be honest, everybody was on the edge of their seats, they didn't know really what to expect," he said.
"But he came back here and helped change the club and did everything better for the club and the community.
"He's certainly changed the mentality of the squad, but the amount of work he does in the community is second to none."
Canberra will be out to give Stuart a fitting result for his milestone game, but the coach himself is wary of the task the Titans present this Sunday.
"They're a lot better squad, and they're going to be very tough to beat this weekend," Stuart said.
"They've only got one home game in two months, so I am sure they will have a really big crowd.
"I am sure they will get a big crowd, but we're never shy on numbers either, we've got a great fan base up in Queensland and we get a lot of support of games there."