Canberra coach Ricky Stuart says he won’t be pressured into rushing out and signing any old player “willy-nilly” after failing to recruit the four stars on top of his NRL wishlist.
The Raiders were rocked two weeks ago when Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco backflipped on a lucrative deal with the club just days before the round-13 deadline.
His shock decision came after Penrith flyer Josh Mansour and Bulldogs veteran Michael Ennis declined to join the club, while Melbourne forward Kevin Proctor backed away from a handshake deal.
Stuart on Thursday publicly broke his silence about the whole sorry saga, after only releasing a statement at the time of the Tedesco backflip, promising to continue his aggressive recruitment approach.
Despite the disappointing progress, Stuart urged fans not to get caught up expecting instant results as available top-line players weren’t always out on the market.
“I just can’t go out and rush into recruitment,” he said.
“What we do over the next two years here is to try and put us into a position for four to seven years down the track.
“It’s a tough job. I’m as impatient as every supporter and fan out there, believe me. The hardest job is for me to stay patient.”
Stuart also denied the Raiders had a problem with convincing players to join the club.
He said he’d had many players’ managers approach him to join the Raiders under his new stewardship. The fact was they just weren’t what he was looking for.
“We’re not out there willy nilly, trying to get anybody and everybody,” he said.
“There’s players out there that we’re saying no to – that never gets reported.”
Despite not being able to lure the top four on his wish list, Stuart insisted he was making inroads when it came to recruitment.
“We are targeting some other players,” he said.
“It’s not something we ever discuss publicly – the player managers do that for us.”
And despite having been burnt by players exploiting the round-13 deadline rule several times in recent seasons, Stuart said he wouldn’t be making a push for it to be changed.
“No, it’s there, it’s a rule and we have to run by what’s there,” he said.