Details emerge about Ricky Stuart and Des Hasler 'tunnel confrontation' after NRL thriller

The coaches came to blows in the tunnel following the Raiders dramatic golden point win.

Ricky Stuart and Des Hasler reportedly had a war of words in the tunnel after the Raiders secured a dramatic golden point win on Sunday night. News Corp's Dean Ritchie reported the two coaches had a heated run-in outside the Canberra change rooms which ended with Stuart allegedly saying "f*** you" to Hasler.

The bitter exchange came after Hasler sprayed referee Kasey Badger and partially blamed her for his side's 21-20 defeat. Veteran journalist Phil Rothfield told Fox League's NRL 360 on Monday that following his heated press conference, Hasler wanted to talk to Stuart about the refereeing prior to him answering post-match questions.

Pictured left Ricky Stuart and right Des Hasler
Ricky Stuart and Des Hasler were involved in a heated altercation in the tunnel on Sunday night after the Raiders secured a dramatic golden point win. Image: Getty

"Bulldog Richie's got the story on the Telegraph website, about 20 minutes after the game after Des had done his press conference and blown up about what we’ve just spent five minutes talking about, he went to the Canberra Raiders dressing room and he wanted to see Ricky before Ricky went to his press conference," Rothfield said.

"He wanted to man up and tell Ricky to his face that he had just sprayed the referee and wasn’t happy and thought his team should have got the money. Ricky came outside and they stood there and had a reasonably heated exchange that went on for a minute or so."


On Sunday the Raiders looked beaten in the extra time after the Titans rallied from 20-10 down with just four minutes to go, with a pair of tries to Titans winger Alofiana Khan-Pereira sending the match to golden point. As the Titans marched downfield and set up for the shot right in front, teenage debutant Chevy Stewart charged out of the line and blocked Kieran Foran's close-range field-goal attempt.

The Raiders then ended up going down the other end and slotted a one-pointer to win the match. This left Hasler fuming, claiming the bunker should have looked for offside at the charge down before taking aim at the standard of refereeing throughout the 90 minutes of football.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Kieran Foran of the Titans looks on during the round four NRL match between Gold Coast Titans and Dolphins at Cbus Super Stadium, on March 30, 2024, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
The Titans one-point loss to the Raiders sees them winless in five games this season.

Des Hasler blames officiating for Titans loss to Raiders

Following the narrow defeat, Hasler criticised referee Kasey Badger, labelling her performance "pretty poor" after his team conceded five penalties to three, and gave away eight set restarts to the Raiders' one. The Gold Coast coach also suggested Canberra's Stewart was offside when he blocked Foran's close-range field-goal attempt in golden point.

"I’ll be the first to say that we were ill-disciplined in parts, but my opinion, I thought the refereeing performance was pretty poor," he said. "I think a lopsided penalty count, particularly in the area of 10 six-agains to one.

"Some of those are warranted, some of those I’ll buy. It just leads to just battling field position all the time. Possession ends up 60-40, yep, sure, some of that’s our own fault.

"But it’s difficult and I’m pretty proud of the effort and that’s why it’s heartbreaking. And I’ve got some doubts around the off-side nature of the charge down. Did they review it? They didn’t review it. Why not? So from that point of view, it was heartbreaking. But we’ll learn a bit out of it. And then we’ll go forward."

On Monday head of football Graham Annesley confirmed the Raiders fullback was in an offside position, proving Hasler right. “Players have to be back 10 metres and have one foot behind the referee when the ball clears the ruck," Annesley said. “You can see most of the Raiders have one foot on the goal line and they have to anchor at least one foot on the goal line.

“The ball is clear of the ruck pretty much once it has been heeled. If we have a look over at Chevy Stewart he is already off the line and again if you follow his movements coming across and it is Chevy Stewart who actually charges the ball down. He in this instance is off-side.”

Ricky Stuart accuses Titans of 'cheating'

After exchanging words with Hasler, Stuart attended the press conference worked up and promptly accused the Titans of "cheating". The Raiders coach blasted his counterpart and said the Titans had unfairly slowed the play down by wrestling his players for extended periods which stopped them from getting quick play the balls.

The Raiders coach also said the Titans coach had no reason to whinge about the refereeing, stating in his opinion the penalty and set restart count should have been skewed even more in their favour by "another 10 or 12" set restarts.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 16: Ricky Stuart, coach of the Raiders looks on ahead of the round two NRL match between Canberra Raiders and Wests Tigers at GIO Stadium, on March 16, 2024, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)
Ricky Stuart said the Titans coach had no reason to whinge about the refereeing, stating in his opinion the penalty and set restart count should have been skewed even more in their favour.

"If he's critical of the six-agains and the penalties, he's on another planet," Stuart said. "He coached well ... but the way they cheated when they were standing there with their hand on the ball ... the way they cheated on the ground.

"I feel sorry for Kasey the way they were in her face all night. She had to withstand a lot of pressure. I'm gonna be making sure I ring (referee boss) Jared (Maxwell) to find out who's right or wrong here, because I thought Kasey, under pressure, she did a really good job."

Hasler joked during his press conference that he’d be fined $25,000 for his rant and is expected to be sanctioned for his remarks. While Stuart could also be slapped with a financial sanction for starting his press conference retort by saying "F*** me". The Raiders coach was previously fined for swearing in a press conference.