The netball world has savaged Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart over controversial comments he made comparing the sport to NRL.
Appearing on NRL360 on Wednesday night alongside host Paul Kent, Stuart addressed his relationship with hooker Josh Hodgson.
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The rugby league great said NRL coaches “might as well be coaching netball” if they can’t have hard conversations with players.
Understandably, the comment has not gone down well in the netball world, with a number of furious current and former players lashing out.
NSW Swifts and Australian Diamonds shooter Sophie Garbin labeled Stuart’s comment "disrespectful".
“It’s 2021 and comments like this are still getting said about women in general and there’s no need for it,” Garbin said.
“The fact that he said it is one (thing) but the fact that no one pulled him up about it in the moment is even worse.
“Netball deserves respect. We’ve got over a million girls playing and to get to the top level is really tough.
“There’s eight teams, 10 spots in each team and a million girls you’ve got to beat to get there, so I think we deserve a bit more respect, it’s really not good enough.”
Netball Australia board chair Marina Go said Stuart would be “embarrassed”.
“I’ve met Ricky Stuart and I’d like to think that on reflection he would be embarrassed by that comment because this is a really tough sport for women played at an elite level with extraordinary athletes,” said the former chair of the Wests Tigers.
“I’m really disappointed on behalf of the sport but also on behalf of the athletes and our coaches as well."
Netball world seethes over Ricky Stuart comment
Legendary Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said: "The time has come for fans and commentators around Australian sport to stop taking lazy potshots at netball and women's sport to justify themselves.
"What I heard on Wednesday was a disrespectful swipe that was trying to deflect from the issue at hand, which is the fact that there’s a perceived issue at the club."
Diamonds legend Liz Ellis called for Stuart to apologise, while Super Netball commentator Sue Gaudion tweeted: "It doesn't matter whose words they are....that message could have been delivered and related back differently by all!
"So to all involved...TAKE YOUR DISRESPECTFUL & UNEDUCATED COMMENTS and have a 'tough conversation with yourself' about how to be better!"
Stuart apologised on Friday, saying he respected netball and those who play it.
"[It was an] off-the-cuff comment," he said.
"I've had a laugh about it, I had some journalists ring me last night, we had some laughs about it. But they probably flogged the hell out of me today.
"I respect netball. I'm sorry if I offended any girl or boy who plays netball."
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