Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said his side will try and prepare for every possible scenario ahead of week two as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the Telstra Premiership.
Speaking after his side’s 24-6 victory over Gold Coast, Stuart said it was a “difficult landscape” for professional sport and the wider community in the wake of the deadly pandemic.
“For nearly 11,000 people to turn up that was unbelievable,” Stuart said of the crowd at GIO Stadium.
“They were only told about three hours before kick-off we were going to accept a crowd.
“It’s a very difficult landscape at the moment but again they amaze me our people.
“The green and the noise, you appreciate it, and it helps the boys.”
The Raiders players themselves, like the rest of the NRL, watched the rolling media coverage on the unfolding story wondering if they were going to be playing in an empty stadium or taking to the field at all.
“It was a bit of a roller-coaster today, we weren’t really sure what was going on especially given I had family coming from Sydney, so I had to keep in contact with them,” Emre Guler said.
Guler crashes over close to the posts
“Everything panned out well, we got the news (the game was to be played) and either way we were going to show up and play.”
George Williams said he was glad the pandemic did not dilute or postpone his much-anticipated NRL debut.
“I thought ‘surely not my first game to have no fans’ so I am pretty happy to experience the Viking Clap, that was something pretty special.
“I’m going to prepare like I do for every game (for round two), we can only control what we can control.
“So, we’ll train and prepare like it’s going to go on, but this is brand new to me, I’ve never experienced anything like this so hopefully it goes ahead.”
Stuart said he will stay in touch in regard to their next game, which has the added wrinkle of being against the New Zealand Warriors.
“As you can see with all of the government meetings and as every sport has, it’s an unusual landscape so we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.
“We could be playing New Zealand here (Canberra) or we could be playing in front of nobody
“It’s something we’ll bunker down with this week and prepare to play in front of whatever occurs.”
Jack Wighton picked up where he left off from last season, scoring two tries in the first half, showing off his bruising defence along with his ever-improving kicking game.
“I have spoken to Jack a bit in the off-season about going to another level and personally I think Jacky will become and is ready to become a representative five-eighth,” Stuart said.
Wighton grabs a double
“That’s a little goal we’ve got and it’s most definitely something he’s taken on board given that performance tonight.”
Despite at one stage looking like the game could be a blowout, Stuart paid tribute to the Titans saying they do not resemble the team that won only four games in 2019.
“They’re tough games because everybody it is telling you ‘gee you’re lucky to have the Titans first up’,” Stuart said.
“They are very much an improved football team and we got out to a lead in the first half.
“Then when they moved (Tyrone) Peachey into the middle and (Brian) Kelly on to the left edge they looked to have a lot more shape and structure and second phase.”