Former coach Ricky Stuart deserves as much credit as successor Laurie Daley for the Blues’ State of Origin series win, according to NSW players.
NSW Blues players say much-derided coach Ricky Stuart deserves as much credit as his successor Laurie Daley for Wednesday’s State of Origin breakthrough.
Daley will rightly go down in the history books as the coach who ended Queensland’s mighty eight-year reign but, without prompting, Stuart’s name was also tossed up for praise in the winning NSW sheds.
Stuart, Daley’s former Canberra teammate, was at the helm when the Blues last won a series in 2005.
But despite the sense of optimism which surrounded his return to the role in 2011-12, Stuart was ultimately unsuccessful in breaking Queensland’s run.
However, his impact on that Blues team hasn’t been forgotten.
Although losing back-to-back series in deciding matches under Stuart was agonising, NSW praised the embattled Raiders’ mentor for instilling the hard-nosed culture which eventually paid off in Wednesday’s 6-4 win.
Star back-rower Greg Bird said Daley had finished a job started by Stuart.
“Loz has been great for us but it’s not all Loz,” Bird said.
“It’s a combination of Ricky Stuart, what he brought and what he started. The squad that started a couple of years ago that’s had to lose those couple (of series) … building what we’ve created (on Wednesday).”
Stuart is often criticised for his intense approach, but players have always said his methods were ideally suited to the scrutiny, pressure and passion of Origin.
Beau Scott debuted in 2010 for the Blues, but said the self-belief in the NSW camp went to another level the following year under Stuart.
“I’ve been around for a few years now on the scene. I think Ricky Stuart created the culture we’ve got here,” he said.
“Laurie has continued this great culture and it showed (on Wednesday) how gritty we were and to hang in there and win it late in the game.”
Stuart’s Raiders are languishing near the bottom of the NRL table with just four wins, and last year, his Parramatta outfit collected the wooden spoon.