Stuart the winner gets Blues home - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stuart the winner gets Blues home

Darren Walton 15/06/2011 10:05:55 PM Comments (0)

Call him a whinger, a whiner, call him arrogant, a manipulator, schemer, a borderline dictator if you must.

Just don't dare call Ricky Stuart a loser.

He may well be rugby league's greatest winner.

Six years after masterminding NSW's last State of Origin series win, Stuart is on the verge of doing it all again - only this time with victory over a Queensland side widely considered the greatest to grace the interstate arena.

A Maroons outfit chock with superstars: Lockyer, Thurston, Slater, Inglis, Smith.

And NSW's best player wasn't even playing.

He was sitting in the coach's box barking instructions into a walkie talkie.

He was in the dressing sheds, too, whipping his charges into a frenzy, reminding each and every one that this was not a football game; it was much more important than that.

"It's time to run into the war zone now - the result's everything," Stuart said on the eve of Wednesday night's match in Sydney.

Code yellow for the Blues. Total lockdown.

Stuart surrounded himself with men fit for the trenches - Gallen and Bird - and alongside trusted allies Minichiello and Gasnier.

The Blues were in full-blown siege mentality because this is how Ricky Stuart has always operated.

His take-no-prisoners approach has brought him just about every prize in the game.

As a player, he won three premierships with Canberra, a Clive Churchill Medal for man of the match in the 1990 grand final and the Dally M Medal as the competition's player of the year in 1993.

A dual international who also represented the Wallabies in rugby union, Stuart played 243 first-grade games for the Raiders and Bulldogs, 14 State of Origin games for NSW for an incredible four series wins between 1990-95.

The champion halfback made nine Test appearances for Australia, none better than the second match of the memorable Ashes series win over Great Britain in 1990.

As a coach, he took the Sydney Roosters to three straightgrand finals and to their first premiership in quarter of a century in his maiden season at the helm in 2002.

Then came NSW's series victory over Queensland in 2005 - making Stuart only the second man alongside Wayne Pearce to reign for the Blues as player and coach - and Tri Nations glory with Australia in 2006 and 2007.

Stuart even managed to take perennial losers Cronulla to within one win of a grand final berth in 2008.

In between, in 1998, he survived a terrifying battle with viral encephalitis, a rare and fatal disease that caused Stuart fits, temporarily robbed him of all mobility and his speech, and left him 6kg lighter.

But Ricky Stuart - player, man or coach - never, ever gives in.

And now neither do his Blues.

Against all odds, they will venture to Brisbane next month, trying to win the series for the first time since 2005.

They will stride into a genuine Origin "war zone", into enemy territory - just where Ricky Stuart, maybe rugby league's greatest winner - likes it best.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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