Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has come out in support for hooker Tom Starling, who has been accused of assaulting a police officer on the Central Coast late on Saturday night, 5 December.
Starling, 22, is one of four men — two of those are his brothers — charged over the incident which is understood to have occurred at a restaurant in Kincumber at around 10.45pm.
Starling was involved in a brawl that allegedly started after another member of his group was asked to leave but refused to do so.
Police will allege the three other men then became aggressive and assaulted police numerous times with one officer receiving a cut to his hand.
Stuart said in a press conference yesterday that he had a long chat with Starling and was comfortable with his actions defending his family.
“Speaking to Tom, defending his mother and his brother is something that I was obviously okay with,” said Stuart.
“If he didn’t jump in to defend his mother and brother, I’d probably be more disappointed in the guy.”
Starling has not been stood down by the NRL or Canberra Raiders at this stage and will appear at Gosford Local Court on 21 January 2021.
In other Raiders news, many of the younger players returned to pre-season this week and were joined by new recruit Ryan James.
The 29-year-old put his hand up to start training early and Stuart said he has already made an impression with his leadership.
“He put his hand up and wanted to train with the 20s and 21s. I’ve heard some stories about Ryan grabbing a couple of kids and showing them a certain way to lift or a certain way to train,” Stuart said.
“It’s wonderful to have that type of NRL player’s experience. Ryan’s been in the game a long time, he’s experienced. For a younger player, I know how excited the younger players were to have Ryan around.
“He’s a good person, Ryan, and he’ll be a great fit to the club.”