Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart. Photo: Karleen Minney
One of the major sponsors of the Canberra Raiders believes the appointment of Ricky Stuart as coach will bring the club more games on free-to-air television.
The Raiders had just one of their 24 regular season games broadcast on Channel Nine this year, which had an impact on the sponsors' ability to gain maximum coverage.
Compare that with the Brisbane Broncos with 18 broadcasts, the Bulldogs (17) and the struggling Wests Tigers (13) and it's clear the Raiders have every reason to demand more exposure. That may happen with Stuart taking the reins.
The three-time premiership-winning halfback is one of the most recognisable figures in the game, having played for NSW and Australia and coached both his state and country.
His less-than-amicable departure from Parramatta after just one season will further add to the media interest in his return to the Raiders.
Defence Housing Australia's chief marketing officer, Tony Winterbottom, said his company didn't rely on the Raiders featuring heavily on Nine, but having Stuart on board would increase the chances.
''Ricky Stuart has a very high profile, as evident in the current media interest, that will bring more attention to the Raiders,'' Winterbottom said.
''When we signed with the Raiders [two years ago], they were in second last place the season before last, so we've always based it upon what would be expected, and that would only be a couple of free-to-air games and most with Foxtel.
''That said, more free-to-air games would be to our benefit and to the Raiders' benefit. The audience of free-to-air is a different audience from pay TV, so I think it would broaden the reach.''
DHA joined the Raiders at the end of 2011 and is committed as a club sponsor until the end of 2015.
The Raiders have endured the most tumultuous season in their 32-year history. Origin stars Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson were sacked, David Furner became the club's first coach to have his contract terminated and Sandor Earl was suspended for alleged doping.
''Whenever issues came up, we would review what was happening,'' Winterbottom said. ''They did say they wouldn't accept poor behaviour and kept their word.
''Our sponsorship with the Raiders has been a positive experience.''