Stone tosses up NRL future - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stone tosses up NRL future

Steve Jancetic 12/04/2011 07:47:50 PM Comments (0)

He lost his game, his job and copped a $10,000 fine to boot - welcome to Newcastle NRL coach Rick Stone's 24 hours from hell.

The likeable Knights mentor put on a brave face as he fronted the media on his return to Newcastle after Monday night's loss to Brisbane, forced to answer a series of questions about his club's prospects of success under Wayne Bennett - the man who will replace him as head coach in 2012.

Told of the coup by new owner Nathan Tinkler early Tuesday morning, Stone admitted his first reaction was one of disappointment - with his 34-game coaching career at the crossroads.

A position on Bennett's staff remains a possibility, but after 13 years learning his trade in the Queensland Cup with Burleigh Bears and four years as an assistant at the Knights under Michael Hagan and Brian Smith, Stone seemed unconvinced another apprenticeship was the way to go.

"I've got to sort out what's best for myself and my family first and foremost," Stone said.

"I've had a good chat with Wayne this morning - I'm going to meet with him hopefully in the next couple of days and sit down and talk a little bit about his plans and some of my own ambitions as well."

Stone told his players of Bennett's signing before they boarded a flight back to Newcastle and said the news had done little to brighten spirits after the 17-6 defeat to the Broncos - the club's third straight loss.

"I think they were a bit disappointed - obviously they know how hard our staff works and they deal with us day to day," Stone said.

"We've got plenty of good staff in there that put massive amounts of time in each week to each individual.

"All the boys respect that and understand that and I think they're all a bit disappointed for some of those people, obviously their futures are up in the air and that's made working conditions difficult over the past couple of weeks that's for sure."

Stone said it was vital he and the squad didn't throw away the rest of 2011 as the club awaited Bennett's arrival, though the loss to the Broncos left them in a large hole ahead of Sunday's meeting with Cronulla.

Compounding Stone's disappointment was a $10,000 breach notice issued by the NRL after he criticised the performance of the referees after his side was on the wrong end of a lopsided penalty count.

"The Knights weren't going to win today mate as far as the refs were concerned and it was pretty consistent throughout," Stone said after the game.

Coaches are forbidden from questioning the integrity of a referee or accusing them of bias, with the Knights given five business days in which to respond to the breach notice.

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