Stuart concedes Hodgson is huge loss
Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart knows exactly where the blame lies for their disappointing tumble down the Telstra Premiership ladder.
With no major changes in personnel and no serious injuries to key positions, the Raiders went into a freefall from finishing second on the 2016 NRL ladder to 10th last season.
And that's despite being top three in attack in terms of points scored. But the Green Machine needed more oil in defence with the 10th worst record in holding the opposition out.
"The one common denominator where we were poor was us," Stuart told NRL.com.
"In our errors defensively, I can't blame anything or anyone else. The best way to fix something is knowing what the problem is. We've identified the things we need to fix and the biggest thing is 'us'."
Stuart wants to work on attitude, belief, confidence – the things that spreadsheets and statistical analysis can't punch out.
"I get all the stats. I look at all the stats but I'm not big on statistics because you can make an excuse for statistics. You can't make an excuse for results," Stuart said.
So it is no surprise Stuart – a driven coach at the best of times – is sharply focusing this pre-season on making the Raiders of 2018 a different story.
"We were far too frantic in our football last season. That came through from a young side who had success the year before."
That would be the top-two finish after 26 rounds in 2016 and being just 80 minutes from the grand final, losing to the Melbourne Storm in week three.
"When I say success, it wasn't success in my mind. For me success is winning a grand final," Stuart said.
"This year when we weren't in a situation we wanted, we started to get frustrated. It started to creep in – a frantic pace in defence, a frantic style in attack. It's not good, it's not healthy. I'm hoping we've learned from that."