Canberra coach Ricky Stuart says the NRL's off-season edict about cleaning up the ruck have been ignored, leaving him no choice but to join in on trying to win ugly.

They'll face a big challenge doing so in Canberra on Sunday against the Melbourne Storm, who have set the benchmark in seasons past for controlling the speed of the play-the-ball.

Stuart has been disappointed in the way the ruck has been refereed this year after he was advised the game would be more up-tempo in 2014.

"The interpretations at the ruck that we practised and were told about for months leading into the season were interpreted come game one and two," Stuart said.

"It's a completely different game on the ground again now.

"It's back to all the wrestles, back to all the ugly things that fans and supporters don't want to see."

Asked if he felt the goalposts had been shifted, Stuart replied: "I don't feel it. I know it."

"Have a look at it - there's not meant to be hands on ball, there's hands on ball everywhere."

Stuart said his side would have to adjust as a result.

"(We have) to be ugly with it," he said.

"There's been a number of games where it's probably beaten us in tight games. We weren't as good at it because we weren't focusing on it."

Stuart said another key to beating the Storm would be keeping star trio Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater under wraps.

"They're brilliant football players who have not only won games for Melbourne, but competitions and Origin," Stuart said.

He said he would like to see his own star fullback Anthony Milford model himself on Slater's game.

"Billy Slater is, and has been, the most wonderful player. They're very similar in ability," Stuart said.

"He's a style of player that Anthony can use to model his game on, improve, and challenge himself to be better."