Fittler to face-off with Stuart - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fittler to face-off with Stuart

By Liam FitzGibbon and Adrian Warren 21/08/2008 04:31:20 PM Comments (0)

Sydney Roosters coach Brad Fittler will be fighting fire with fire when he opposes former mentor Ricky Stuart in Friday's NRL clash with Cronulla.

The sides meet at Toyota Stadium for the first time since Fittler's coaching debut in round 18 last season.

The former Roosters player kicked off his coaching career with a shock 23-12 win over a side coached by the Stuart, under whom Fittler played his last three years in the NRL.

Under Stuart, the Roosters were a formidable force but slumped quickly to the bottom of the NRL ladder in 2007 under Chris Anderson.

That was until Fittler took up the role late last year and since then he has transformed them into premiership contenders.

Roosters captain Craig Fitzgibbon said it was evident Fittler had picked up many of Stuart's best traits and he saw plenty of similarities between the sides heading into the game.

"We have an incredibly successful era under (Stuart) and there is a little bit of a similarity there," Fitzgibbon said.

"I think we are hopefully making the right steps to get back to where we were when he was coaching.

"I think Freddie has taken (Stuart's coaching) on board and Freddie has got his own style as well.

"It is a bit of a contrast in styles there, but certainly both of them have got the same principles and the same work ethic as well, so there's a lot of similarities there."

Fitzgibbon, who played under Stuart for five seasons, said the Bondi club still held an enormous amount of respect for their former coach.

"Every time you play a team coached by Ricky Stuart you know you are in for a tough game and certainly that's the way they play their football," Fitzgibbon said.

"I don't think they've had a game where they haven't turned up to play this year and that's the way the teams he coaches prepare and that's the way you've got to prepare if you want to be able to hold them."

Both sides are looking to bounce back from losses last week and keep their aspirations for a top-two finish alive.

Stuart has named an unchanged side for the match while the Roosters welcome back Craig Fitzgibbon, Nate Myles and Setaimata Sa.

The Roosters are still not assured a top four berth and a loss on Friday would give fifth-placed Brisbane a chance to move within one point with two rounds remaining.

Fitzgibbon, however, said making the top four wasn't the be-all and end-all of their season.

"All of us want to cement a top four spot, with a three-point buffer ahead of Brisbane," Fitzgibbon said.

"It's important in that respect but we certainly feel it is two different competitions.

"You've just got to get into the semis and then a whole new competition starts again."

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