Flood disaster hits Stuart hard - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Flood disaster hits Stuart hard

David Beniuk 24/05/2011 05:09:56 PM Comments (0)

The Queensland floods hit home for NSW coach Ricky Stuart when he saw water where normally the roof of a team bus arriving at Suncorp Stadium would be.

Pictures of the iconic rugby league venue underwater were beamed around the nation and, as it still recovers, the disaster hit Stuart again at NSW's final training run before Wednesday night's opening State of Origin clash.

He made a point of inspecting the damage to the western side of the ground which has resulted in the players' change rooms being temporarily moved to a car park.

"When the floods hit Queensland, you look at landmarks you recognise," Stuart told reporters at the ground.

"Where the bus comes in at the tunnel ... where the water level was.

"When I saw it on TV, where the level water got to, it hit me because it was where the bus comes in. It was right up to bus height.

"It's a shame because it's probably my favourite football ground as a coach and as a player.

"It's disappointing to see such a beautiful stadium hit but the best show in rugby league is still going to be taking place."

If the devastating floods were already a motivator for the Maroons, they might have become more so when former Blue Benny Elias compared them to Origin last week before apologising.

In fact, Elias and several members of the current NSW side were involved in flood relief efforts after the disaster.

Stuart said he immediately rang a mate to see whether he could fly north to help out.

"State of Origin is a very, very important game of football but it's no more important than what Queensland have gone through," he said.

"Football is one thing but what these poor people went through here is another thing and it's devastating.

"I think we're fortunate that we can still have a game of football here to bring a bit of joy to a few people's lives who have been destroyed over the last few months."

Queensland coach Mal Meninga, a former Test and Canberra Raiders teammate of Stuart's, said his players would have the victims on their minds.

"It's been a really emotional time for Queensland, there's no doubt about that," Meninga said.

"The people of Queensland have gone through some traumatic times and people are still struggling financially.

"I know the team's well aware of that and we'll be doing our most tomorrow night to put a smile on their face and uplift their morale a bit."

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