Ricky Stuart’s tenure as coach of the Parramatta Eels has officially begun with sessions held this week in Sydney’s Golden West. A new era is here for the Eels and their fans. But if history is anything to go by, Chris Sandow should be shaking in his boots.
The long line of playmakers that have fallen by the wayside under Stuart is scary. Whether it be via an early release, poor off-field behaviour or simply not getting along. There is something awfully shady about Stuart and his history with halfbacks.
From his time at the Sydney Roosters and the Cronulla Sharks, things never seem to work out for the sixes and sevens.
Things had been prickly for a long time between Stuart and then Cronulla Sharks captain Brett Kimmorley when Ricky joined the Sharkies back in 2007.
Despite having won a premiership with the Melbourne Storm and leading Cronulla to the Grand Final qualifier in 2008 under Stuart, Kimmorley was shown the door in favour of Trent Barrett.
Stuart tried to explain himself in an article for The Telegraph back in 2009.
“I learnt that Kimmorley was not a big-match player – not the kind who can get you over the line in big games, like Andrew Johns or Darren Lockyer. And I knew that when I later moved to Cronulla” Stuart said.
“We tried our best to work together, but it didn’t work.”
Remember that these were successful clubs. The Roosters had won a premiership under Ricky in 2002 and the Sharks had placed equal first in 2008. Yet he was still sacking guys. From Brett Kimmorley to Luke Dorn. It simply doesn’t matter who you are.
What does Stuart deep down really think of Sandow and the Eels than?
Sandow is on a huge contract and was miserable this season for his new club. The guy is missing plenty of things that Ricky requires. The diminutive halfback has to start from scratch and play for Ricky or risk being booted out the backdoor.
Stephen Kearney tried to change him and failed. How is the new coach going to do it?
Stuart is probably best just punting him altogether and finding someone else.
Even after he has left a club, his fingerprints are there for all to see.
After being sacked from the Sydney Roosters at the end of 2006, bad things continued to happen at Bondi.
Craig Wing quickly turned his back on the club to join rivals South Sydney and Brett Finch asked for a release to join the Eels. Jamie Soward was sacked in 2007 after 22 games too.
Sharks’ halves were not safe even after Stuart had stood down in 2010.
Scott Porter was released from the club in 2011 after 22 games and Albert Kelly has since been given the flick from both the Sharks and the Newcastle Knights.
“I am really looking forward to it [training]” Ben Roberts told The Sunday Telegraph on the weekend.
“It will give us a taste of what life will be like under Ricky and allow us to think about that over the off-season and prepare.
“We didn’t have a great season and we want to do everything we can to turn it around. I honestly think we did pretty well towards the end of the season and we stuck together as a group.
“We want to make amends for the season and we are looking forward to getting stuck into it with Sticky.”
Don’t get too comfortable, Ben. You’re on the chopping block too.
Playmakers under Stuart
Paul Green 2002: Injured knee Round 1 and did not return at the Roosters
Justin Holbrook 2002: 4 games and never seen again
Sam Obst 2002: 7 games over 2 years before leaving for the UK
Craig Wing 2002-2007: Returned to Souths in 2007
Brett Finch 2003-2007: Asked for a release to join Parramatta
Luke Dorn 2004: 1 game before leaving for the UK
Brett Firman 2005: Released after 4 games to join North Queensland
Jamie Soward 2005-2007: 22 games before being released
Josh Lewis 2006: 12 games before being released
Adam Dykes 2007: 1 year under Stuart before leaving for the UK
Brett Kimmorley 2007-2008: Left for the Bulldogs after plenty of issues with Stuart
Brett Seymour 2007-2009: Sacked after a string of alcohol fuelled incidents
Anthony Watts 2007: 5 games before being released for disciplinary reasons
Blake Green 2008-2009: Joined the Bulldogs after only 19 games
Brett Kearney 2008-2009: Suffered injury Round 1 2009 before leaving for the UK
Trent Barrett 2009-2010: Retired in 2010 despite pleas from the Sharks to play on
Scott Porter 2009-2010: Released in 2011 after 22 games
Albert Kelly 2010: Released from both the Sharks and the Knights
Tim Smith 2010: Axed to NSW Cup shortly after signing