Gould calls for Ricky to stay for the long haul

ADRIAN PROSZENKO
Last updated 12:04 08/07/2012

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Phil Gould, the most successful NSW coach in State of Origin history, has called for Ricky Stuart to remain the boss of the Blues for the next 10 years.

The biggest talking point following Queensland's seventh consecutive series victory is whether Stuart should remain in charge if he lands an NRL coaching job next year. Gould believes that, regardless of whether Stuart or someone else coaches NSW, the 2002 premiership-winning mentor should remain in charge as the overseer of the Blues' campaign for a decade.

''Ricky probably should be in charge of Origin for the next 10 years,'' Gould told The Sun-Herald. ''He could get anyone to coach them - Trent Barrett, Brad Fittler, Andrew Johns, Laurie Daley ... John Cartwright. Anyone can coach the side, but you want Ricky actually in charge of the Origin program.

''I've always said NSW needs that stability of one person in charge for a long, long time. Let them know 'this is the way I want Origin to be done'. Ricky understands Origin, he's done it really well. He's got 16 people on his staff, so there are plenty of people to physically coach the side. But to oversee Origin, how NSW Origin is done and the culture of Origin, Ricky understands that well and it's all there. Just because we leave Ricky in charge of Origin for 10 years, it doesn't mean we can't get other people to coach it for him.''

Stuart has made no secret of his desire to get back into clubland and has been linked to several teams including Canberra, the Roosters and St George Illawarra. The 45-year-old has shown he can handle dual roles, having coached the Blues to their last series victory while at the Roosters. In a market prepared for The Sun-Herald, TAB Sportsbet installed Stuart as a $2 chance of solely coaching NSW next year, while they were offering odds of $5 for him doing both gigs.

Gould believes Stuart could actually benefit from again juggling the two jobs. ''I'm sure he could do both,'' Gould said.

''It would be very unwise to change at this time. He'll actually find it better if he can get into the club system and coach. I did the job as a club coach and as a non-club coach. I found it easier when I was coaching [a club] football-wise.

''Obviously time-wise with the promotion and everything you want it to be full-time, but he's got a heap of staff who know the system now. It would do him good to get back into club coaching. You're more in tune with the trends of the game and what's going on, the language the players are using, the nuances of the referees.

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''They're three pretty steep tasks to throw at someone just one-off in the middle of the year. I know Queensland do it their way but with Ricky now having two years under his belt, the preparation of the team wouldn't suffer if he was coaching a club ... I know in talking to him he's itching to get back into club football. He wants a job. He'll be one of the foremost names if one becomes available.''

The call comes just weeks after Wayne Bennett told The Sun-Herald that the Maroons were primed for a decade of dominance unless Stuart was retained.

The other major talking game from the series was the performance of the Blues halves. When the decider was on the line, Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney failed to impose themselves. Their Queensland counterparts, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, stepped up in the key moments to ensure the shield remained north of the border.

Asked if the Blues pair should be retained for 2013, former NSW captain Brad Fittler replied: ''Yeah. It's a long time till next year. We just need to chill out and see what happens.''

Gould added: ''We've seen the benefit of stability this year. It's the closest we've got to them and it came when we used the least number of players. People will argue over one player over another for selection but once you've made a decision, I think it's best to stick and use the experience in whatever games they've played, which will only make them better for the next one.

''After a period of time, maybe you say 'OK, you've had enough chances, we'll look somewhere else'. But if you go somewhere else you've got to be prepared to go there and stick with it for at least two or three years. If you do change it, don't change it for the sake of change. Change it because you've got a better option you can stick with for two or three years.

''It's no good experimenting. They've done all the experimenting and it doesn't work.''

- Sydney Morning Herald

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