Incoming Canberra Raiders chairman Allan Hawke always knew Ricky Stuart would return "home" to coach.
Incoming Raiders chairman Allan Hawke says the decision to appoint Ricky Stuart as coach was ‘‘crystal clear’’, but there are expectations he must turn the club into a premiership contender within three years.
Hawke, who will officially take over as Raiders chairman in November, confirmed to Fairfax Media, three-time premiership winning player Stuart was ‘‘coming home’’ to the Raiders.
Hawke has also defended the club’s decision to not formally announce Stuart’s appointment at the presentation night on Wednesday, claiming negotiations had continued late into the night and details were still being finalised on Thursday.
Incoming Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart. Photo: Matt Roberts
Hawke admitted that Neil Henry, Tim Sheens and Andrew Dunemann had all been serious contenders but, in the end, the decision was ‘‘clear cut’’.
‘‘The recommendation from Don [Furner] was crystal clear for Ricky. Don’s the CEO, he makes the recommendation,’’ said Hawke, who was chair of the four-man committee charged with finding the new coach.
‘‘I think in the back of Ricky’s mind was always the view that one day he would return to his hometown to coach.
‘‘He had to go out of Canberra and establish himself in the bigger market before coming back to do that.’’
There was utter confusion at the Raiders presentation on Wednesday, with no officials from the Raiders prepared to confirm the Stuart deal, despite Stuart’s manager, John Fordham, issuing a media release of a three-year contract.
Raiders officials also failed to inform interim coach Andrew Dunemann of the decision.
Hawke said when he left the function, about 10.30pm, he was not even aware Stuart had agreed to the in-principle offer.
‘‘[Negotiations] flowed on during the course of the night ... we thought it wouldn’t be announced until some time [Thursday], but sometimes these things develop momentum of their own.’’
Hawke said the Raiders board had made the decision with one clear intention in mind - ‘‘We want to be real contenders.’’
‘‘I’ll wait until I hear what he thinks is possible, but that’s why were looking towards a three-year contract because we’re certainly looking to be contenders in that period ... for a premiership or certainly up there knocking on the door,’’ Hawke said.
‘‘There is a concern of the board and I suspect Ricky will have the same concern, about the challenge that is facing us as we go forward and how we re-shape.
‘‘Ricky will want to come and look at the set-up he’ll want to contemplate who he has as assistants, what sort of support we might have at the club.’’