'Punch in the head': Raiders coach blasts 'typical' QLD government

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Ricky Stuart is pictured here on the sidelines at a Canberra Raiders match.
Ricky Stuart is filthy with the Queensland government over its handling of Canberra's travel request. Pic: Getty

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has been left seething over a last-minute change in travel plans, ahead of Friday night's preliminary final against Melbourne Storm.

The Raiders had planned to fly into Brisbane early for their preliminary final against Melbourne, and spend the day in a designated hotel in the city.

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That plan had been in the works for several weeks, with the NRL having assisted in pushing for approval from the Queensland government in the event Canberra qualified.

It would have allowed the Raiders to fly out of Canberra at 10am to have a meal at a Brisbane hotel and get some rest before heading to the ground.

However, the NRL were told on Wednesday by the state government they would need to have several COVID-safe measures in place for hotel staff, with only two hours to have them approved.

The Raiders deemed it an impossible task.

It means players and staff will now leave Canberra more than four hours later and be forced to head straight to Suncorp Stadium from the airport.

Pictured here, Canberra Raiders players thank fan after their semi-final win over the Roosters.
The Raiders were hoping to arrive in Queensland with plenty of time before their preliminary final against Melbourne. Pic: Getty

Stuart labelled the situation "another punch in the head" and lashed out at the Queensland government for the late disruption to the team's schedule.

"That's all changed overnight, which has compromised our preparation again," Stuart said of the news.

"The Queensland government got back in touch with them (the NRL) yesterday afternoon at 3pm ... so it hasn't eventuated.

"Typical of the Queensland government at the moment.

"I don't want to talk about it. It won't affect us. It hasn't all year, it's just another punch in the head we have copped in the week leading up to the game."

Setback the latest hurdle for Raiders to overcome

The Raiders had adopted a similar approach to the one they had planned when they flew into Sydney last week for their semi-final win over the Sydney Roosters.

It's the latest hurdle in a season of travel hell for the Green Machine.

The club have spent around 50 hours in transit since the NRL's resumption in May, where overnight hotel stays are banned.

That figure is believed to be close to double the next team in the competition, given they were forced to use Campbelltown as their home ground early in the season.

This will be their fourth trip of the year to Queensland, while they have also had one game in Melbourne and nine in NSW.

"That toughness under the jumper of these players is one of the assets I have as a coach here," Stuart said.

"No team from the Raiders point of view has had the magnitude of this type of challenge.

"It's no one's fault, it's just the challenge of an out-of-town team. It's been a really difficult season.

"They've made it work because they are tough.They haven't let it disturb the processes for us to get to a game.

"They haven't let it disturb preparations. We just need to get to the sideline in the best physical and mental condition."

with Yahoo Sport staff

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