Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has been called out by NRL fans after his response to an ugly spear tackle from his Raiders player Seb Kris on Sunday. The Canberra flyer was given his marching orders midway through the second half of the 24-6 loss to the Sharks after a shocking tackle on Sione Katoa.
The Cronulla winger was lucky to escape serious injury after catching a high ball near his tryline, before being dumped onto his head in a dangerous lifting tackle by Kris. Replays showed the point of Katoa's head hitting the turf in a driving motion by Kris, sparking heated scenes as players from both sides ran in from all directions.
FLOPS AND SHOCKS: Where your NRL team went wrong in 2023
“The Seb Kris tackle, it looks bad and there’s no doubt about that but as players you know yourself how easily that tackle happens,” Matty Johns said on Fox League. “There’s no doubt that in no way shape or form was it deliberate.”
"I can't see any other avenue for the referee here."
Sebastian Kris was sent off for this dangerous tackle.
📺 Watch #NRLSharksRaiders on ch.502 or stream on Kayo: https://t.co/B1ijnGXtqA
✍️ BLOG https://t.co/rzyVGBCs6X
🔢 MATCH CENTRE https://t.co/N1PqLvsDYs pic.twitter.com/Z4IScZzMJo
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) September 3, 2023
Nathan Hindmarsh added: “It just happens. You can see he lands on his head but Seb Kris has realised halfway through that tackle that he’s not going to drive him (into the ground). He’s pulled out of it but unfortunately he’s pulled out a little too late.”
To his credit, Kris immediately checked on Katoa and seemed to offer his apologies, with the referee left with little choice but to give the Raiders player his marching orders. On Monday, Kris has accepted a five-game suspension for the incident at PointsBet Stadium that will see join the list of Canberra players missing from next Sunday's elimination final away to the red-hot Newcastle Knights.
Ricky Stuart brushes off spear tackle incident
While Raiders captain Elliott Whitehead accepted in his post-game press conference that Kris deserved to be sent off, Stuart appeared to brush off the tackle by claiming he had not seen the incident. “I didn’t make anything of it, I haven’t seen it again,” Stuart said in response to a question about the tackle.
Stuart's answer did not sit well with many fans considering the Raiders coach is often so forthright in his criticism of officials. He was also at the centre of an infamous blow up in 2019 when Nick Cotric was sent off against the Dragons for a similar lifting tackle. With regard to Sunday's incident involving Kris, the Canberra coach merely suggested his side was "unfortunate" and needed "more luck" against Cronulla on Sunday.
The fact Ricky Stuart failed to condem the Sebastian Kris tackle just proves this bloke is not good for rugby league
— Bulldog Dan (@suthodan) September 4, 2023
U just know had it happened against him we wouldn’t hear the end of it that’s the prob with Ricky that excuse of not seeing doesn’t wash as if the boot was on the other foot he would of seen it clear as day that guy is bad for the sport tbh
— Steven Rowe (@Stevenrowe25) September 4, 2023
Absolutely right. The fact his teammates were dabbing him up in the immediate aftermath is indicting of the culture he’s built down there I reckon.
— Big Bad Bunyip (@hardys_on) September 4, 2023
100% he'd be calling for the death penalty
— Bulldog Dan (@suthodan) September 4, 2023
I’m sure Ricky Stuart will have a whinge but that’s a send off every day of the week. Should be 4-6 week suspension
— Keelan (@I_am_da_BOM) September 3, 2023
Depleted Raiders in do-or-die clash with red-hot Knights
Kris' suspension means he joins gun forwards Josh Papali'i (bicep) and Corey Horsburgh (suspension) on the sidelines, in what is a massive blow for Stuart's side. The Raiders already faced the incredibly difficult task of having to go up to Newcastle and beat the competition's form side to keep their season alive. The Knights' 32-12 win over the Dragons on Saturday was the club's ninth straight victory.
If the Raiders are able to overcome Newcastle, they'll still have Maroons forward Horsburgh out for another two weeks for his high shot on Brisbane's Corey Jensen. He would return for the grand final - if Canberra makes it that far.
Kris, who played fullback for the majority of the season, switched to a wing in recent times due to the strong form of Jordan Rapana at No.1. Winger Albert Hopoate has recovered from a recent rib injury and looks the likely replacement for Kris, having played 20 NRL games this season. Stuart's other options are James Schiller, who scored a double at NSW Cup level in his last outing, or exciting youngster Xavier Savage.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.