'Weak-gutted dog': NRL dishes out punishment to Ricky Stuart
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has declared Ricky Stuart’s “weak-gutted dog” slur unacceptable in any circumstances as he banned the Canberra coach for one match and fined him $25,000.
Stuart’s penalty, the harshest ever imposed for NRL post-match media conference comments, followed his shock outburst about Penrith playmaker Jaeman Salmon on Saturday night.
Stuart’s fine takes his career tally for post-match comments to $160,000, with the league promising to ensure it comes out of his own pocket.
But it is the time away from his team that will hurt Stuart most, especially with the Raiders in a desperate struggle to make the top eight ahead Sunday’s clash with St George Illawarra.
Under the terms of the ban, Stuart will not be able to attend Canberra’s headquarters or game, nor have contact with players or coaches regarding training or match-day tactics.
“These are significant steps we have taken,” Abdo said.
“We have taken them because it is completely unacceptable for any person in the game to use language like the language Ricky used on Saturday.
“It is unacceptable regardless of the context or circumstances, or any matters that might have occurred of a private nature or any context.
“It’s inappropriate and unacceptable for someone to speak like that. And it’s a breach of the NRL rules.”
Abdo said the NRL were aware of history between Stuart and Salmon dating back to an incident in junior football, but added the Canberra coach was judged only on the comments made on Saturday night.
Stuart is just the second NRL coach after Shane Flanagan to cop a ban, with Flanagan’s relating to Cronulla’s ASADA scandal.
Flanagan was later found to have breached the terms of his one-year ban by contacting the club in that time and so was deregistered again in 2018.
Abdo said he had no concerns that Stuart could be involved in such a breach.
“Our default position is that everyone understands and accepts the rules and any sanctions that were imposed,” Abdo said.
“We obviously have systems and controls in place.
“We have an integrity unit, we have a salary cap team, and we’re confident that everyone understands the seriousness of this.
“I don’t have any concerns at this particular point in time that our systems will not be able to prevent anything potentially going around what we’ve issued.”
Canberra confirmed they accepted the ban, with Stuart having since apologised.
“It’s a very public job and it’s a hard job,” CEO Don Furner told reporters in Canberra.
“He’s obviously very disappointed and he’s embarrassed and he’s just going to have to put it behind him and move on and we’ll all support him.”
Penrith supported the sanctions, after Salmon’s family had called for action against Stuart on Sunday.
“Panthers is disappointed by the original comments made by Stuart on Saturday night, and believes that there is no place in the game for such comments,” they said in a statement.
“Jaeman is a highly-valued member of the Panthers playing group.
“Jaeman’s wellbeing is the club’s priority at this time, and Panthers is ensuring he has a strong support network around him.”
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