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Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.

It was 30 years ago but Ricky Stuart remembers his Bob Hawke moment like it was yesterday.

As he reminisced about Canberra’s 1989 grand final victory over Balmain in extra time, Stuart shared his special memory which will forever be burned in his mind.

A memory of three blokes, one of them former Canberra teammate Steve Walters, having a beer and sharing a laugh.

For Stuart there was no better way to celebrate Canberra’s first premiership than at the home of Australia’s Prime Minister.

With Hawke’s passing on Thursday night, Stuart related the story of his fondest memory on Friday.

"After the 89 grand final we were all invited back to The Lodge for a massive big BBQ - they had a marquee tent out and the whole lot," Stuart said.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart shortly after the 1989 grand final.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart shortly after the 1989 grand final. ©NRL Photos

"You can imagine that we were pretty much on cloud nine after winning the competition.

"I was talking to Bob - having a beer with him and Steve Walters walked past and started to fall into the conversation, and he said, 'Gee, Hazel must have been busy last night mate, it's amazing what she has put on here for us today'. It was very funny and it's typical Steve Walters and even Bob appreciated the bit of humour.

"We just felt that Bob was one of us. He was a wonderful character. He had a great ability to lead the country and then be in a change-room with a group of boys sharing a beer and be on our level.

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"He was Mr Hawke our Prime Minister but to us it was 'gidday Bob' and he wouldn't want it any other way."

With the Prime Minister based in Canberra he developed a special affinity with the Raiders and was a proud supporter.

Stuart said Hawke would try to arrange his work schedule to allow him to attend as many games as possible.

"As a younger player here at the club Bob was a big supporter of the Raiders," Stuart said.

"When his schedule allowed it he was at our home games and even at our Sydney games.

"Making you feel comfortable was a great trait of his - he was just a wonderful human and a guy that I felt really privilege to have some relationship with."

Stuart was saddened by Hawke's passing and was grateful to have one more chance to spend time with the man known as the people's Prime Minister.

"I was very fortunate to recently share a function with him when we were fare-welling one of our senior public servants, and meet up and have a quiet chat," Stuart said.  

"It was really nice - years had gone by, a lot of water under the bridge but we never forgot one moment of it.

"I felt very privileged and proud that as a part of my career I've been able to have a beer with Bob."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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