Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart wary of under-fire NZ Warriors
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart believes the public lashing of the Warriors is the ultimate provocation ahead of their NRL clash in Auckland.
The equation remains simple for the Raiders. A loss in Sunday's match is almost certain to end their finals' hopes.
Canberra bring winning form to the match, unlike their opponents, who have lost five on the trot.
The Warriors' 26-10 loss to last-placed Newcastle prompted harsh criticism from coach Stephen Kearney, who questioned their effort.
"Individually, they've been told that some of them aren't trying," Stuart said.
"There's no greater way to be motivated if you're that way inclined."
Stuart will urge his players to bring the same fight which had helped them in last week's defeat of Cronulla.
"If we don't meet aggression with aggression, we'll get beaten," Stuart said.
"I'm going to ask the boys to aim up and prepare to play the type of Warriors team who are going to come out and play their best game of football."
Dominating through the middle against the Sharks allowed star hooker Josh Hodgson to take charge of the game.
"If their big blokes in the middle can take some control, then he'll get control. That's an important factor for our big blokes to understand," Stuart said.
Sitting two games outside the top eight, it's been a tumultuous season for a team initially touted as a premiership threat.
But off-field stability continued on Thursday with skipper Jarrod Croker re- signing until the end of 2020.
Croker is the latest key player the Raiders have locked in beyond next year, joining Joey Leilua, Jordan Rapana and Jack Wighton who all recommitted earlier in the season.
Stuart is also signed until the end of 2020.
"We've had a lot of tough losses and we could have easily fallen away but with the culture and the club we have here, we've stuck it out," Croker said.
The 26-year-old goal-kicking centre is already Canberra's leading point scorer and is equal-second on the club's list of try-scorers.
"To be able to lead this club it's one thing, but to lead them to a premiership is at the top of my list," Croker said.
"We've got the squad here to push for that."