Ricky Stuart joins Parramatta for three years

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 14:58 27/07/2012
Ricky Stuart
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NEW JOB: Ricky Stuart is the new coach of the Parramatta Eels.

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Ricky Stuart will next week meet with NSWRL directors as they consider who will coach the Blues next season after his appointment to the Parramatta job.

Just a week after Stephen Kearney announced his departure as Eels coach, Stuart will attend a press conference today to confirm him as the club's new mentor on a three-year deal believed to be worth up to $800,000 a season plus bonuses.

The Parramatta offer more than doubled what the NSWRL could afford to pay Stuart to remain as Origin coach and it is almost certain someone new will be given the task of trying to prevent Queensland scoring an eighth consecutive series win.

Trent Barrett, who was Stuart's right-hand man in this year's campaign, is favourite for the job but he is understood to be considering an offer to join the former Sydney Roosters and Cronulla coach at Parramatta.

The Herald reported on Monday there was a possibility Stuart could still be involved with the Blues for one final season in 2013, with Barrett to do all the preparation in the lead-up to the Origin series.

Former Sydney Roosters coach Brad Fittler, who has coached City for the past two seasons, and Laurie Daley - the Country and Indigenous All Stars coach - have also been mentioned as possible successors to Stuart, along with Canterbury assistant Jim Dymock.

Another proposal is for Barrett to coach the Blues, with Fittler and Andrew Johns as his assistants and former Australian and Manly premiership-winning coach Bob Fulton as coaching director.

Barrett is regarded as a future coach and has been linked with the WARL Pirates job if the Perth franchise is admitted to the NRL in 2015, but it may be a daunting task to be given charge of a NSW team that hasn't won for seven years.

NSWRL general manager Geoff Carr said no consideration would be given to who would coach the Blues next season until the board receives a debrief from Stuart next week.

''It will be sooner rather than later,'' Carr said. ''The board is due to meet towards the end of the first week of August but we may have a meeting prior to that, just to look at an Origin debrief.

''The board hasn't had the benefit of a debrief from the coach, which he should be given the opportunity to do and when all of that is being considered it will give the board the chance to make a decision about what direction to head.''

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An offer was indicated to Stuart last week to remain on as Blues coach, but Carr said the NSWRL could never hope to compete financially with NRL clubs.

However, Stuart is confident the Blues are on the verge of beating Queensland and has put the structures in place he believes would enable him to remain involved if the NSWRL relaxed its policy of not allowing a club coach to have charge of the Origin team.

''At the end of the day he has got to do what he has got to do and the next step for us will be to have the debrief and look at a way forward,'' Carr said.

'There was no offer of tenure but we certainly gave him an indication that we were prepared to increase the money ... For a three-game series and a full-time role in high performance you can't offer the same money that a year-round NRL coach can command but we wanted to show Ricky that we were interested in continuing with him and were looking to find a way to get more money for him.''

- FFX Aus

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