High-risk move has league world asking what Ricky Stuart is thinking

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Ricky Stuart, pictured here during a Canberra Raiders game in 2021.
Ricky Stuart looks on during a Canberra Raiders game. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

OPINION

Signing the wayward Adam Elliott seems at odds with everything Ricky Stuart is attempting to create – or more to the point rebuild – at Canberra.

Stuart is big on culture and even bigger on trust between player and coach.

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Elliott showed scant concern for either during a turbulent time at the Bulldogs, letting the club down on three occasions after promising he was a reformed boy each time.

He is once again saying all the right things – as players on lifelines tend to do – but can he be trusted to deliver on those promises?

You'd want to be playing with someone else's money to wager on it.

Elliott's signing comes amid another forgettable off-season for the Raiders.

Jordan Rapana went DUI last month while Tom Starling has found himself in conversations with police twice in 10 months on nights out.

Before the start of the 2021 season, forwards Corey Horsburgh and Corey Harawira-Naera both failed breath tests.

It came around the same time Stuart was forced to sack four players from the club's junior ranks for covering up a glassing incident on an alcohol-fuelled night.

Then there was Curtis Scott, returning the Beach Boys' hit 'Kokomo' to the NRL charts by doing some hitting of his own at the nightclub of the same name.

This is the same bloke who was roused by cops as he slept off a drunken night in the parklands outside the SCG in January 2020.

Jack Wighton's troubles with the law in 2018 were well-documented, with jail time narrowly escaped.

Adam Elliott, pictured here in action for the Bulldogs in March.
Adam Elliott in action for the Bulldogs in March. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Question marks over Canberra's signing of Adam Elliott

Grog has been at the centre of all Canberra's off-field dramas.

Elliott has shown little resistance to temptation – or keeping his kit on in public – when bevvies are involved but has somehow convinced Stuart he deserves a fourth shot at redemption.

It must have been one helluva sell because Stuart's bullshit meter is finely tuned after all these years.

"When a kid tells me he wants to make Canberra home, given he's originally from the region, it means a lot to me," the coach said in announcing Elliott's arrival on a 12-month deal.

"Rugby league is layered with redemption stories. I just hope for Adam and his family, this is another one of those because I know he’s going to be joining a very strong club.

"A number of our leaders have supported Adam in joining us and that gave our club confidence in moving this direction."

Time will tell if it all works out but the scepticism is palpable.

As Andrew Voss said: "Ricky talks about redemption stories but I think Canberra's got a few issues with some of their players.

"Do they need another player with issues? (Elliott) is very much Jekyll and Hyde."

For the Raiders' sake, let's hope it's all Jekyll and none of the Hyde.

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