Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has dampened down the praise heaped on the Warriors following their enforced exile to Australia, saying the well-paid players are simply doing their job.

The Warriors have been the toast of the NRL over the last few days, with their decision to remain in Australia, away from wives and families, and continue in the competition being applauded by many high-profile figures in the sport.

But the stoic Stuart, whose team prevailed 20-6 over the Warriors on Saturday, provided another view.

Before the match he told Fox Sports the Warriors had done "nothing special this week", saying that it's their job "to play football" and "that's the way it is".

Advertisement

READ MORE:
Behind the scenes: Inside the Warriors' chaotic week
As it happened: Raiders v Warriors
The pros and cons of Warriors' decision to stay in Australia for NRL season
One final issue: Why the Warriors still need answers from the NRL

Asked about that comments post game, Stuart provided more context.

"That's our job," said Stuart. "Don't get me wrong. I applaud the Warriors for their decision. And I know [the NRL] will do everything in their power to make it as comfortable as they can for the boys.

"It's very tough for them. But they are getting paid very, very good money. The clubs are all getting paid very good money. We are very fortunate to be able to wake up every morning and do something we absolutely love. So some days we have to go through tough times."

Stuart also forecast that the Warriors' situation might become the new normal in the NRL, as the Covid-19 situation changes daily in Australia.

"It might get to a stage where it is not only the Warriors," said Stuart. "They might be the leaders in regards to how to handle a situation where you have to bunker down in hotels…because who's saying we are not all going to be in hotels over the next month?"

For his part, Warriors coach Stephen Kearney refused to use the unprecedented situation as an excuse.

He lamented key errors on attack, which meant the Warriors couldn't take advantage of sustained dominance in the first quarter.

Advertisement
The NZ Warriors after they lost their round two match against the Canberra Raiders in the 2020 NRL. Photo / Photosport
The NZ Warriors after they lost their round two match against the Canberra Raiders in the 2020 NRL. Photo / Photosport

That let the Canberra off the hook, before the Raiders found their groove in the second half, with two tries in four minutes just after halftime.

"I liked the way the boys scrapped it out in the first half," said Kearney. "I didn't think we played particularly well — we didn't have a real flow to an attacking game —but they kept scrapping away."

"It's been a challenge, certainly at the start of the week. But we had a good captain's run and the boys have been in pretty good spirits all week."

The Warriors weren't helped by the loss of Lachlan Burr in the first half (concussion) and Adam Blair was also sidelined after a head knock, before returning later.

Premium gold

Back-rowers Tohu Harris and rookie Eliesa Katoa were the pick of the forwards, both carrying for almost 150 metres along with heavy defensive workloads, while Kodi Nikorima again seemed to overshadow starting hooker Wadye Egan.

Adam Keighran showed some potential at left centre, but both halves Blake Green and Chanel Harris-Tavita struggled to create much on attack, albeit often behind a struggling pack.

"We need to make a couple of [structural] adjustments, particularly when we have got the footy, that will help our attack, and our defence," said Kearney. "They are not major, but adjustments we need to make and we will look to do that this week. [Overall] I'll take some of the positive parts from [the match] and move forward to next week."