Saturday Serve

Ricky Stuart, left, has plenty of problems on his hands as coach of the Canberra Raiders.

Ricky Stuart, left, has plenty of problems on his hands as coach of the Canberra Raiders. Photo: Graham Tidy

Pi squared equals 9.8696 to four decimal places. Now we've got the easy question out of the way, how do you solve a problem like the Canberra Raiders?

Last Sunday, frustrated fans probably came up with more points than were scored in the 54-18 thrashing by the Manly Sea Eagles. It was obvious after only a few minutes, the Raiders had no answers to the onslaught.

So, take the clipboard. What's your next move?

Move him. Drop him. Sack him. Sign him.

Do you give 17 players the chance to redeem themselves next weekend against the New Zealand Warriors?

Do you drop one or two, hanging them out to dry as scapegoats for the humiliating loss?

Do you call the players to a meeting, turn on the overhead projector and tell a dozen players they're cut and to look for new clubs?

Before he plays his part in The Coach, a reality television show to be filmed in the NRL off-season to unearth rugby league talent, Ricky Stuart faces these real-time decisions before naming a Raiders team on Tuesday.

Stuart has never shied away from an unpopular call, just call Parramatta.

But the coach has some big decisions to make - not just this week.

Stuart selects this next Raiders team with the knowledge that the exact same 17 players had combined to snatch a thrilling win at home just seven days before the Manly disaster against one of the competition's heavyweights, the Melbourne Storm.

What happened in seven days? It's become an all too frequent problem for the Raiders, consistency.

They're capable of a freakish run, like winning six in a row to sail into the finals as they did in 2012 and 2010.

But for a long time, Canberra hasn't been a team up for the weekly grind, the trademark of successful clubs such as Melbourne and Manly.

So rather than just change the team this week, how do the Raiders make that cultural shift? Maybe it's changing the squad.

''I'm looking at the big picture of the Canberra Raiders,'' Stuart said during the week, tiring of questions over his controversial decision to move 21-year-old Jack Wighton from centre to five-eighth.

''I'm looking at the success of this club over the course of the next few years. The more you do the same old thing, the more you'll get the same old result."

Stuart is working with a squad he inherited and that finished 13th last season. Two of the club's representative stars, Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson were sacked last year, without any recruits to replace them.

Even in defeat, before the Manly game the Raiders had at least shown resolve.

So are Raiders fans expecting too much of this current squad and, if so, when can the faithful expect change?

Sorry to test your patience, but it may have to be gradual.

Stuart's priority since his appointment has been to lock in players he wants to retain: Wighton, Shaun Fensom, Joel Edwards, Edrick Lee, Dane Tilse. Expect young players like Matt Allwood and Paul Vaughan to follow suit, Josh McCrone too.

The challenge is attracting just a couple of marquee players, to take the Raiders up a notch.

A lot of Canberra's recruitment for 2015 still centres on star teenage fullback Anthony Milford.

Milford signed a two-year deal in November to join the Brisbane Broncos from next year, but the Raiders still hold hope he may backflip on that decision and stay - although it is waning. He has until Round 13 - when the Raiders play the Broncos - to decide.

When push comes to shove, the Raiders need an answer soon.

The Raiders were very interested in New Zealand Warriors fullback Kevin Locke during the off-season, when he was freed to negotiate. While the Raiders have played the waiting game with Milford, Locke on Friday night signed with British Super League outfit Salford.

The Raiders are also deadset keen on Melbourne Storm and New Zealand international Kevin Proctor. Fans might question why, given the back row - Fensom, Edwards and 21-year-old Josh Papalii - is one of Canberra's strongest positions.

But Stuart's focus is on injecting quality players, as well as those in the right positions. He wants game-changers.

It was well reported the Raiders had held initial discussions with Manly backrower Glenn Stewart, although those never really progressed. Kept much quieter was Canberra's interest in English prop James Graham, before he re-signed with the Bulldogs.

When the marquee market is bare, a player like Proctor is worth maybe $500,000. The Raiders are in a fight with several clubs, including the Roosters, who rarely miss their man.

Other players linked to the Raiders in the media recently include Wests Tigers' Fijian winger Marika Koroibete and South Sydney hooker Apisai Koroisau. Both are very unlikely Raiders recruits, given they may not be better options than what Canberra has now and coming through their emerging junior ranks.

There are key players at the Raiders out of form. 

But those calling for immediate radical change, like 21-year-old halfback Mitch Cornish to be given his shot in the NRL, save your voice. The former Junior Australian Kangaroos skipper is still being toughened for a debut, particularly in defence. Stuart is taking a patient approach with his development.

Meanwhile, patience can be a problem for Canberra fans who've been waiting 20 years since the last Raiders premiership.

before introducing a sixth team from South Africa, a team from Argentina and another yet to be determined - most likely from Asia -