Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has described his side as “soft” but Canterbury are having none of it.Ricky Stuart described his Canberra side as “soft” on 10 occasions in a four-minute post-match polemic, but Canterbury are wary of an ambush before their NRL trip to the downtrodden Raiders.
After pointing the finger at everyone else but his team after three losses in which the Raiders gave up late leads, Stuart ran out of patience following their 32-16 drubbing at the hands of Manly on Saturday.
Time will tell whether Stuart’s rev-up will work amid rumours several of his squad are fighting for their contracts.
The Bulldogs have a chance to condemn Canberra to a 0-5 start when they meet in the nation’s capital to open round five, a result which would surely raise questions about Stuart’s tenure.
“There’s no doubt they’ll be primed for a big game,” Bulldogs playmaker Kieran Foran said.
“They’ve been unlucky so far this season, they haven’t been too far off.
“They’ve been beaten the last minute in three games and that can be disheartening at times.
“But they’re a really good footy team, they’re really well-balanced across the park, they’ve got a really big forward pack
“And all those boys will want to come out and prove a point this week.”
There are few words which a coach can use that are more insulting than “soft”.
That Stuart deployed the “s” word repeatedly risks putting his players offside.
He has already dropped Blake Austin, who just two years ago was being spoken about as a future representative player, and has shown he is willing to go to any length to fire up his side.
Dogs hooker Michael Lichaa said the Raiders were the antithesis of soft, having been bashed and bruised by them during their pre-season meeting.
“We played them in a trial at the start of this year and we were all pretty sore after that game, they’ve got some big bodies out there,” Lichaa said.
“It’s going to be a tough game – when they’re on, they’re on. They’re a really good team, they have some great individuals – (Jordan) Rapana and (Joey) Leilua.
“Those two, they get their sets started. Especially Rapana, I don’t know how he does it. He’s not very big but he’s unbelievable, he’s in the top two or three wingers in the comp for sure.”