Ricky Stuart under fire over response to Sebastian Kris spear tackle send-off

Sharks winger Sione Katoa was lucky to escape serious injury after the shocking tackle by the Canberra star.

Pictured left to right, Canberra coach Ricky Stuart and the Sebastian Kris tackle that led to a send off.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart claimed he hadn't seen the Sebastian Kris incident when asked for his thoughts on the send off. Pic: NRL/Getty

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.

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“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.”

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.

Seen here, Seb Kris given his marching orders for an ugly lifting tackle.
Seb Kris was given his marching orders for the ugly lifting tackle. Pic: Getty

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.


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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.

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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.

with AAP

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