Jaeman Salmon has broken his silence after being labelled a 'weak-gutted dog' by Ricky Stuart, denying the situation has anything to do with the Canberra coach's autistic daughter.
Salmon will come off the bench for Penrith in Sunday night's NRL grand final against Parramatta, revealing on Tuesday that he's desperate to put the Stuart affair behind him and focus on football.
Stuart sensationally labelled Salmon a 'weak-gutted dog' after Canberra's loss to Penrith in Round 21 and was subsequently handed a one-match ban and $25,000 fine from the NRL.
The Raiders coach was fuming over an incident involving Salmon in which the Panthers player lashed out with his boot in a tackle and collected Tom Starling.
Stuart revealed he has a family history with Salmon, which reportedly dates back to Salmon's junior days playing alongside Stuart's son in Cronulla.
“I have had history with that kid. I know that kid very well," Stuart said of Salmon.
“He was a weak-gutted dog as a kid and he hasn’t changed now. He is a weak-gutted dog person now.”
Speaking to the media for the first time about the incident on Tuesday, Salmon said he was caught completely off guard by Stuart's spray.
"It was a bit of a shock," Salmon told AAP.
"I've never heard that before. But I am not worried about that now.
"The club has always been supportive of me, and of any player in positions like that. I can't thank the club enough.
"It's in the past and I am just focused on the grand final this week. Winning it would be a very good feeling."
Salmon said he and his family are still considering taking legal action against Stuart, while also denying rumours the situation has anything to do with Stuart's autistic daughter.
“There could be some stuff in the works still. I’m not sure. I can’t really comment on anything, and I won’t," he said.
“It has nothing to do with his autistic daughter.”
Ricky Stuart's apology for Jaeman Salmon slur
Stuart later apologised for his comments.
"I was speaking as a father and not as a football coach. My reaction was to a family situation that I thought I had dealt with. Clearly I haven't," he said in a statement.
"I allowed my emotions to get the better of me and for that I'm sorry.
"There is a history between Jaeman Salmon and my family that I will not go into.
"I should not have brought it up after the game, but it just got the better of me. I am truly sorry."
In a statement of their own, the Salmon family said they were stunned that Stuart would bring up an incident that dated back more than 11 years.
"We were disappointed by the comments of Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart after what was a fantastic game of football for the Panthers and our son, Jaeman," the family said in a statement.
"We were surprised by Ricky's claim that he knows Jaeman personally as they have had no contact since Jae was 12 years old.
"We are calling on the NRL to take action as we believe Jaeman has been wronged in this situation.
"We will follow the correct procedures and let the NRL complete a thorough investigation."
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo labelled Stuart's comments 'completely unacceptable' when announcing his punishment.
“This is a highly unusual case, and we have taken the significant step of proposing a suspension from his duties for one week," Abdo said.
"This will be a full suspension precluding Ricky from having any involvement with any club activity either in person or remotely. Furthermore, the fine must not be paid by the Club but by Ricky himself.”
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.