Stuart: Having Wighton sidelined wasn't a distraction
Ricky Stuart has reiterated the welfare and rehabilitation of Jack Wighton will be the focus of the club in the future as he confirmed he had told his players the troubled fullback's contract would not be torn up.
Wighton was stood down from the Raiders heartbreaking 26-22 loss to the Broncos on Saturday night after last week pleading guilty to assault and public urination outside a Canberra nightclub in February.
He watched the clash at Suncorp Stadium on the sideline from the bench and after the loss Stuart made a few points about the direction the Raiders would be heading in with regard to Wighton.
"The board put a statement out on Friday and now it is about letting Jack go to court this week and seeing what the sentence is, and then our board will make a decision in regards to the punishment," Stuart said.
"You are talking to a club here that has been at the forefront of disciplining poor behaviour but our chairman has asked me to pass on to the players that we have no intention whatsoever of tearing up Jack Wighton's contract. We will be looking after his welfare and his rehabilitation."
Stuart said Wighton's issues were no distraction for his team despite giving up a 16-0 lead to Brisbane.
"You saw the way we played tonight. It wasn't a distraction. I've got a very tough bunch of kids there that handled the change late in the week," he said.
"It had no bearing on the result. We should have won that game tonight. It was our doing in regards to why we didn't."
It was the Raiders' seventh loss of the season by eight points or less and a bitter pill to swallow for Stuart and his players after they led 16-0 at half-time and seemed on their way to a famous victory.
"There was a lot of effort and preparation that went in so to finish like that in the last 40 minutes was disappointing," Stuart said.
"I've spoken to the boys about it and it was important to get the message into our head that it is our doing, and nothing else but our own doing."
Stuart was adamant that the reason for the capitulation in the second stanza was not a mental issue with his players.
"There is a bit of a mental stuff in certain parts and phases, but it is not all about looking at the mental side of it or I'd go and get four psychologists to come in and help me," he said.
"You've got to defend an error. In the first half we were running through them and bulldozing our way through, and we do that every time to them, but we are making fundamental errors and not defending them.
"Our good play created that statistic in the first half where we had a huge positive with our completion rate and possession through repeat sets, very good kicking and good field position. We didn't make the errors that we did in the second half...and we've got to fix that before we think about winning any football game."
Stuart said it did not come down to a lack of care or desire in his side.
Captain Jarrod Croker said he was disappointed with the second half but said the performance of fullback Brad Abbey was a highlight.
"I thought in his first game for the club he was really good and it is good to see that someone can fill in a day or two before a game and play that sort of game," he said.
"There is certainly no lack of belief in our sheds."