Rugby League

Visit by Canberra Raiders mums inspires victory

A pre-match address from passionate Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart is where women would normally fear to tread. 

Josh Papalii's mother Mespa Salesa, with his daughter, Khalani-Rose Papalii, watch Raiders players warm up from the side ...
Josh Papalii's mother Mespa Salesa, with his daughter, Khalani-Rose Papalii, watch Raiders players warm up from the side lines. Photo: Jay Cronan

But while the players have built reputations as big, tough footballers, deep down they're still mummy's boys. 

The club invited the players' mothers into the sheds to listen to Ricky's final message to his players before Saturday's home clash with Gold Coast on Mother's Day eve. 

They also formed a guard of honour as their sons ran onto Canberra Stadium. 

Sam Williams' mother Trish and Mark Nicholls' mum Annmaree have ridden the highs and lows elite football throws at their sons more than most. 

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"They were all very attentive, I guess it was a bit toned down [from Ricky] because the mothers were in there," Trish said. 

"I was actually a bit nervous going in there, into their inner sanctum where they don't want to concentrate on their mothers.

"I'm a mother of three, so I've probably heard it all before in football sheds.

"Some of the mothers decided the dads always get to go in there, and it's about time we got to see what happens without being too invasive to the boys.

"It was very professional and I was really impressed."

Trish and husband Mark were in Europe when Williams was recalled to Canberra's NRL side after stints with St George Illawarra and Catalans Dragons. 

The halfback began this season in NSW Cup before earning a first grade recall in round five.

"People who know me know I'm renowned for being nervous, I"m terrible watching," Trish said.

"We've been overseas for five weeks and Sam got picked when we were away, we've been watching on the corner of an iPad."

Annmaree said it was a "privilege" to be invited into the sheds, and said the parents ride the rollercoaster of emotion as much as the players.

Nicholls debuted in 2012 but had to wait nearly two years before being recalled to first grade this season. 

​ "You feel their pain and you want them to succeed and make it.

"You've got to keep them grounded at the same time, they try and shield us from some of that but we can read it in them.

"We travel from Wollongong to all the Mounties games and these games, wherever Mark's playing.

"It [sheds] was what I was expected. I was also nervous but it was great to hear Ricky address them.

"He spoke about passion, tradition and what he wanted them to do.

"It was quite an inspiring speech, it was a privilege to be in there. 

"Our sinuses will be well clear, you could smell the liniment in there."