Ricky Stuart insisted he would have to be a miracle worker to lift the spirits of his Canberra Raiders squad after their NRL Grand Final defeat.
James Tedesco’s late try secured a 14-8 victory for defending premiers Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, though it was a game laced with controversy.
The Roosters’ Cooper Cronk was harshly sin-binned early in the second half, but it was Canberra who were the recipients of a bizarre decision late on.
Referee Ben Cummins initially signalled for a repeat set of six following a Canberra attack, only to rescind his decision and hand possession back to the Roosters, who went up the other end to claim the win.
Stuart insisted he did not wish to put the spotlight on the officials, though confirmed he would not be speaking to the referees’ boss Graham Annesley, stating it would be miraculous if he was able to lift his side’s confidence.
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“The plan we had was working. We were coming on really strong with the plan we had but we lost a bit of momentum in a couple of scenarios,” he told a news conference.
“I’m not a miracle worker, you can’t lift spirits after a grand final [defeat].
“I’d like to think of it as a wonderful Grand Final, one we could have won. It was the wrong call and I’ve only seen it once.
“No one goes out there to make a mistake. They have tough jobs. If it’s the wrong call there’s not a referee that would go out there to make a mistake, if it is a mistake.”
Stuart, however, believes the incident is merely a reflection of a hugely challenging campaign for Canberra, who made their first Grand Final appearance in 25 years.
“Anything that can go wrong has gone wrong for us this year. All the adversity we’ve had this year, we’ve overcome,” he added.
“The travel adversity, two players sent off in one half. That’s built the resilience in this team, we don’t look for excuses. We look for solutions to get on with it. I’m proud of the squad that I’m coaching.”