The Raiders' Ricky Stuart has been able to escape the NRL coaching circus.
The Raiders' Ricky Stuart has been able to escape the NRL coaching circus.

Elephant in the room: why has Stuart escaped scrutiny?

FORMER NRL player Mark Riddell has raised the "elephant in the room", questioning why Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has not come under more scrutiny of late.

The Raiders won't play finals this year and have had a lean run of September action in recent seasons.

Despite this, Stuart has largely gone unmentioned in the coaching circus that's engulfing the NRL in the past fortnight.

Wayne Bennett, Trent Barrett, Anthony Seibold, and even Paul McGregor have had to deal with speculation about their futures and Riddell wonders why the Canberra coach has flown under the radar.

"Every other coach gets critiqued on their results and you look at the results of the Canberra Raiders in the last five years - no other coach in the game would be coaching if they had that record," Riddell said on Macquarie Sports Radio.

The Raiders' best season under Stuart was 2016 when they made a preliminary final, but they have missed finals in every other year since he took over in 2014.

Stuart has cited injuries to star hooker Josh Hodgson and captain Jarrod Croker as well as fullback Jack Wighton's suspension as key factors that held the team back this year.

Mark Ridell played for Parramatta  from 2005 to 2008.
Mark Ridell played for Parramatta from 2005 to 2008.

With the Raiders' NRL finals hopes again dead and buried as they sit 10th with a 8-13 record, winger Jordan Rapana and forward Luke Bateman threw their support behind Stuart on Thursday.

"We were very unlucky with injuries and suspensions, (Stuart) did the best he could and the players he brought in were the right players," Rapana said.

"We have belief in every player that comes in here and I know Ricky does too, that's why he plays them."

Bateman agreed.

"Ricky's been dealt a few tough cards during the year injury-wise and what he's done for the team and decisions he's made, I don't think anyone could've done any better," he said.

Riddell played 92 games for the Dragons, 86 for the Eels, 10 for the Roosters and 62 for the Wigan Warriors in the European Super League.

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