Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart. Photo: Jay Cronan
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart believes Raiders fans have copped a raw deal after the club was allocated just one home game in its first five matches next year.
While Stuart said the players would not use this as an excuse, he questioned why supporters had to wait until round three against Gold Coast Titans before they could watch their team play at home.
Canberra and Wests Tigers are the only two teams who have not been allocated a home game in the opening two rounds of next season.
The Raiders have perhaps the toughest start to 2014 of any club, including a daunting round-one test against North Queensland in Townsville in cloying March heat.
''I certainly wasn't expecting any favours off the league,'' Stuart said. ''As a playing group we'll handle it, but what I'm disappointed about is our fans don't see us. They see us once in the first five weeks, which I think is unfair.''
Stuart denied the Raiders were chasing the signature of Titans hooker Matt Srama after reports he has fallen down the pecking order there. Srama, 22, is contracted to the end of 2014, but it has been suggested he could seek an early release to move elsewhere.
He played on despite shoulder concerns last year, and his recruitment would be risky as Raiders starting rake Glen Buttriss and Broncos recruit Kurt Baptiste are recovering from similar problems.
''It's the first I've heard of it,'' Stuart said of the Srama talk.
Incumbent halfback Josh McCrone has given the biggest indication yet he could switch to dummy half for the long term after confirming he will train there exclusively into the new year.
''I've been focusing a fair bit on hooker at the moment, we want to tick that box off first and see if I like it and it works,'' McCrone said.
''Everything up to Christmas and into January will be at hooker, and it's going well … it's a different type of fitness defending in the middle than the edge. You do a lot more tackling and wrestling, and it's something I need to improve.''
Stuart said if the McCrone experiment was successful it would give Canberra's attack a new dimension and more versatility.