AAP Rugby

Raiders rekindle memories of 1989: Stuart

By AAP Newswire

Rugby league is theatre and that's why the 1989 grand final was the greatest ever played, according to Canberra icon Ricky Stuart.

The "no-name" Raiders came from fourth on the ladder to take down Balmain 19-14 and secure the Green Machine's first premiership in a thrilling decider at the Sydney Football Stadium.

There will be more than 100 former players at Canberra Stadium on Saturday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the premiership and watch the Raiders play the Wests Tigers.

Canberra coach Stuart, who played halfback in the grand final, emphasised the drama of the 1989 extra-time contest is what makes it the best.

"I think it's the greatest because of the way it was played, the way it finished.

"Rugby league is theatre isn't it and that was certainly up there in regards to theatre," Stuart said.

"The way the scoreline changed, the way Balmain could have won that game, the famous ankle tap Mal (Meninga) made on Michael Neil, the way it ended with the field goal into Steve Jackson's try ...

"Chris O'Sullivan is still filthy on Steve Jackson scoring that try because he didn't get all the accolades for kicking the field goal.

"We were underdogs, nobody knew who we were, well most of us. We were really a no-name team outside Mal and Gary (Belcher) and Chicka (John Ferguson).

"The joy of the final siren knowing 'Wow, it can be done and it has been done'. That's the one thing I have etched in my mind."

Canberra are primed for just their second finals appearance in the past seven years, as they sit third on the ladder with eight games remaining.

Stuart admits he's let his mind wonder to finals at times, but said to create something special in September they must focus on the now.

"You do talk about the journey, the standards you need to have in the game and the standards you set when you play well," he said.

"Our game last week (against St George Illawarra) was quite clinical and that's the first time I've mentioned the word clinical in regards to our performance.

"We're working on other areas of our game to keep improving on this back end of the season. It's still a long way to go and it's such a tight eight so you can't look too far ahead.

"You'd be silly not to think about what could happen if you get the opportunity but we're working to get that opportunity today."