Ricky Stuart confirmed the least surprising news in Canberra, telling the Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio that DUI buddies Corey Harea-Naera and Corey Horsburgh won’t be part of the Raiders’ round one team.
Before we focus on the implications, let’s chuck a shout-out to Riccio, who has apparently taken Paul Kent’s role as Stuart’s voice to the world. Riccio has been the source of most information out of Braddon in recent times. One wonders what the good people at the Canberra Times have done to be ignored.
The decision itself is a bit of ‘quit before you’re fired’ areas. According to Riccio, Harawira-Naera is likely to receive a three game ban, and Big Red one-game, from the NRL integrity anyway, so it didn’t matter materially to their game time whether Stuart took this stand. However it’s interesting Sticky using the Sydney media to send a massage about his team’s behaviour. Perhaps the audience isn’t Canberra fans, but rather those that might make decisions about his players’ futures.
Regardless, it’s pleasing for Stuart to take a stand on the behaviour. Sticky clearly doesn’t see this as similar to the Scott or Starling incidents: this is speculation obviously, but it’s likely there’s little that either will be able to say at a court appearance or to the integrity committee that will change the interpretation of the matter. Being over the limit and driving it’s pretty cut and dry. So Stuart has the clarity to take a stand, and has done so, even if it may not have mattered. The off-field behaviour of players is only ever of interest to (most of) the media when it’s no bueno, so Stuart is making a clear statement it won’t be tolerated in the Raiders quest for an illusive premiership.
As we’ve said before the impact will be as much on the players as individuals as it is on the side. Harawira-Naera now forfeits his spot as starting edge forward to Hudson Young, and if he’s not careful he may never get it back. He was already on tentative ground after his re-entry to the competition late last year, and while he may not be on his last life-line, it’s a mark against his name that he can ill-afford to repeat.
Horsburgh cedes game time to the endless list of middle forwards keen to make a spot in the top 17 theirs. Players like James, Sutton, Guler and Havili, who may have been spending round one on the bench, now get a chance to make it that much harder to set them aside. Horsburgh will find his way back over the front-end of the season, but it will put his ability to push for representative selection at a disadvantage come Origin time. I think he’ll still squeeze his way into the Queensland squad, but this is hardly a happy distraction.
Both players will be keen to re-establish themselves as soon as possible when they return to the side. In all likelihood this a speed-bump quickly forgotten in the passage of time. But that’s only if it remains an isolated event. Here’s hoping that is the case.