Stuart to hit magical 400-game coaching mark
Ricky Stuart didn't want this story written.
He was desperate to avoid the fanfare, pageantry and headlines.
Maybe, provided his Raiders win on Saturday night, he will be coerced into a quiet celebratory beer the following day.
Stuart wanted his 400-game NRL coaching milestone - which will arrive against Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium - to slide through unrecognised and undetected.
He didn't want to discuss the honour, nor did he want the media to publish any stories.
Stuart's players didn't even know about his accomplishment.
Why? Because he didn't tell them.
Knowing Stuart's desire to keep it a secret, Raiders CEO Don Furner - a great mate of Stuart dating back to their school days at St Edmunds College - even declined to give us a quote.
All News Corp Australia could ascertain was that Stuart may have a few beers to celebrate on Sunday afternoon in Canberra - only if his side beats Wests Tigers.
Yet 400 games as an NRL coach puts the 53-year-old Stuart in rare air.
He deserves the accolades by becoming just the eighth coach in rugby league history to have secured the 400-match achievement.
And given his appetite for coaching, Stuart will move up the coaching table.
By the end of this season he could have leapfrogged Rob Willey, Bob Fulton, and Warren Ryan into fifth place overall.
Only Craig Bellamy (453 games), Brian Smith (601), Tim Sheens (669) and Wayne Bennett (844) will be ahead of him.
Fulton and Stuart have long been close friends with similar personalities.
Stuart is still seething after the Raiders' weak and meek performance against Newcastle last weekend which resulted in a 34-18 loss.
He even delivered a class Stuart line in the post-match press conference: "We played like children."
Maybe that is the reason Stuart doesn't want any back-slapping - he just wants to focus on winning again.
News Corp Australia mentioned Stuart's coaching exploits to former Canberra teammate Laurie Daley, who, like Furner, didn't want to be quoted but hoped the milestone could be acknowledged.
Iron-willed, intense yet caring, Stuart has won an NRL grand final and contested four grand finals. He has coached NSW and Australia to amazing success.
Stuart's greatest trait is his staunch loyalty to players, friends and family.
Despite enduring some lean times at Cronulla and a controversial one-season tenure at Parramatta, Stuart has a success rate just a touch below 50 per cent. He has rebuilt his beloved Raiders into a premiership heavyweight.
"People who love Ricky really love him," Paul Gallen wrote about Stuart last year.
"They know what he's about. They'd go to war for him.
"Ricky cops so much flak for exactly the same reason as Cameron Smith. Tall poppy syndrome People want to bring down winners and Ricky Stuart is a winner. People can say what they want about him - look at his record."
Stuart's coaching record comes after he enjoyed a wonderful playing career which included 243 NRL for Canberra and Canterbury along with 14 Origin games for NSW and nine Tests.
Bellamy has the best overall coaching strike rate having won 311 games for a stunning success percentage of 68.7 percent.
Originally published as Sorry Sticky but you are in rare air