Ricky’s rant! ’Channel 9 doesn’t like rugby league’
Ricky Stuart says he won't be backing away from his explosive attack on Channel 9 over the lack of free-to-air games given to Canberra in the revised NRL draw.
A furious Stuart went to war with Nine on Thursday when he told The Daily Telegraph that "Channel 9 doesn't like the Canberra Raiders" - and he even questioned if the game's host broadcaster "like rugby league".
But in a small win for the Raiders, the NRL has now agreed to fly them on a chartered flight direct to Bankstown Airport for so-called "home" games at Campbelltown.
It will still mean the Raiders have the longest travel time to home games of any team, but at least this does cut back on the six-hour round road trip it would have taken by bus.
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Canberra had asked the NRL to allow them to stay the night before Campbelltown games at a nearby hotel but that was knocked back because isolation protocols.
The Raiders have been told the reason they can't play in Canberra is due to biosecurity measures, although there is a conspiracy theory that it is also a lot cheaper not to have to send the TV trucks and the circus that goes with it to Canberra.
While the Raiders are the competition favourites and last year's grand finalists, being on the road every single week for 18 rounds will make it a huge ask for Canberra to aim up to the expectation.
Even allowing for the chartered flights, it is still going to be long game days every weekend.
While the Warriors have been forced to relocate to the Central Coast at least their "home" games are in Gosford, and both Melbourne and North Queensland have been granted permission to play at their regular grounds.
No team will be travelling more than Canberra with Newcastle's games also in Gosford, which is only one hour down the freeway.
And in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions appearances on free-to-air are also a huge bonus for clubs trying to promote sponsors and their brand name.
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Though the fact that the Raiders are one of the competition's most exciting teams to watch has won little credit.
In fact, the Raiders will only get three Channel 9 matches for the season while only wooden spoon contenders Gold Coast and the Warriors are worse off with one.
Cronulla also get three Nine games while up the other end of town Brisbane get 15, Parramatta 13, Melbourne and South Sydney 12, the Roosters 11, Newcastle nine, Penrith and North Queensland eight, St George Illawarra seven, Manly and Wests Tigers six and Canterbury five.
This excludes yet-to-be advised Channel 9 Saturday night simulcast games for the finals six rounds.
Asked by The Daily Telegraph to respond to his club's lack of free-to-air games, Stuart didn't hold back: "Look, to be quite honest, I wouldn't know if we are on free-to-air or pay TV. It doesn't really concern me. I am not commercially minded.
"But in respect to our appearances on Channel 9 it is pretty much the same every year for us. But where is the reward for our sponsors and our fans to watch us on free-to-air after making the grand final last year?
"Ever since I've been back in Canberra this has been very common and shows me that Channel 9 doesn't like the Canberra Raiders.
"Actually, from communication over the last month, I don't even think Channel 9 like rugby league."
Stuart added that he could not sit back and say nothing when his club was continually disrespected: "I have an obligation to my club and our fans to stand up for what I feel is right and fair.
"And when I think the Canberra Raiders are being unfairly treated I will say so. In this instance we have not been fairly treated in my opinion.
"In this current climate, when you can't have members and fans at your games and your sponsors are backing you even when they are doing it tough, I have an obligation to say something."
RAIDERS FULL DRAW FOR 2020
3. Sat, May 30, Storm, AAMI Park, 7.35pm
4. Sun, June 7, Knights, Campbelltown Stadium, 4.05pm
5. Sat, June 13, Tigers, Campbelltown Stadium, 7.35pm
6. Sun, June 21, Sea Eagles, Campbelltown Stadium, 4.05pm
7. Sat, June 27, Eels, Bankwest Stadium, 7.35pm
8. Fri, July 3, Dragons, Campbelltown Stadium, 6pm
9. Sat, July 11, Storm, Campbelltown Stadium, 7.35pm
10. Thurs, July 16, Roosters, TBC, 7.50pm
11. Sat, July 25, Rabbitohs, TBC, 7.35pm
12. Sat, Aug 1, Cowboys, TBC, 5.30pm
13. Sat, Aug 8, Panthers, TBC, 7.35pm
14. Sat, Aug 15, Broncos, TBC, 7.35pm
15. Sat, Aug 22, Titans, TBC, 3pm
16. Sun, Aug 30, Bulldogs, TBC, 6.30pm
17. Sat, Sept 5, Roosters, TBC, 7.35pm
18. Sat, Sept 12, Dragons, TBC, 3pm
19. Sun, Sept 20, Warriors, TBC, 2pm
20. Sat, Sept 26, Sharks, TBC, 5.30pm
Originally published as Ricky's rant! 'Channel 9 doesn't like rugby league'