Stuart walks out on media

Canberra fans will have to wait for Ricky Stuart's thoughts on their brave 2020 NRL campaign after the coach walked out on his press conference.

Raiders coach RICKY STUART
Raiders coach RICKY STUART Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

One question. Barely two minutes.

That's all coach Ricky Stuart could tolerate before abruptly walking out of a press conference after Canberra were overpowered 30-10 by Melbourne in their NRL preliminary final.

The signs were ominous that the passionate mentor might be preparing for a vintage Stuart post-match performance after the Raiders' quest to end their 26-year title drought was crushed by a dominant Storm at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

Eyebrows were raised when Stuart didn't make himself available to media until almost an hour after the loss that snapped Canberra's five-game winning run and ended their brave quest to book back-to-back grand finals.

Yet there was no indication that the sometimes volatile Stuart had been simmering when he finally emerged post-match.

He appeared composed when he answered the opening question, showering Melbourne with praise for the win set up by a point-a-minute 24-0 first half blitz.

Which made his sudden exit while reporters attempted a follow up query all the more surprising.

There was plenty to discuss after Canberra's season ended.

Could Stuart expand on the Raiders' gutsy effort to overcome a heavy injury toll and a nightmare travel regimen to become the first fifth-placed team under the new finals format to have made a preliminary final?

The Raiders had made a grand final qualifier after spending almost 50 hours in transit since the competition's resumption in May - close to double the time taken by the next NRL team - due to overnight hotel stays being banned under COVID protocols.

And what were his departing words for English import John Bateman, who is bound for Super League club Wigan in 2021 after two influential seasons at Canberra?

Raiders fans will have to wait after Stuart's only post-match insights were that he was "very proud" of his side and that they didn't start their preliminary final well.

"We were passive in defence (in first 25 minutes) was not us," Stuart said.

"I can handle the loss...but I'm just really disappointed we did not have one of our better games."

Stuart even dipped his hat to Melbourne as he expanded on the opening question.

"To our character and the resilience in the team, we hung around and tried to turn it around but Melbourne just wouldn't let us and it made it a tough night," he said.

"I'm very proud of where we got to but I'm disappointed in not going one step further.

"You can't take it for granted getting to this position in a season because you fight so hard to get here and put so much work to get to this stage of the season. For us to let ourselves down like that in the first 25 minutes is the disappointing part."

He added: "I genuinely wish (Storm coach) Craig (Bellamy), (captain) Cameron (Smith) and the team all the best for next week."

And with that he was gone.

As a reporter tried to ask a follow-up, Stuart simply said "cheers" as he stormed out.