They either look like world beaters, or the worst side in the competition. There is no in between!
The Raiders are a strange side in that they seem to always be struggling to take that next step. In the past injuries have killed the clubs chances, player behaviour hasn’t helped, and the club has become known for being able to beat anyone when they turn up to play, only to lose games they should win against poor opposition.
At times this team must give coach David Furner nightmares!
It is rare that Furner gets a chance to settle on a lineup and stick with it for a long period of time. The way he has been forced to rotate his squad, especially his backline, has been crazy. This season though we have seen this rotation starting to pay off in a way that many wouldn’t have expected…
The Raiders are now at a point where almost anyone in their lineup is replaceable. The depth the club has built up over the last few years means that they could just about field a second NRL team that would have a decent amount of field grade experience!
Other clubs are now looking at Raiders juniors, who are currently some of the best in the game, as they have a lot of first grade experience and they perform well when they are called into the Raiders NRL side.
Terry Campese is a very good play maker, and on a different level to anyone else at the club, but if he is injured again the club doesn’t fall apart. They just call up any one of a number of halves they have blooded over recent years and the team plays on. Name another club in the NRL that could lose its number one play maker, and its highest paid player, and not have their season completely fall apart. You can’t!
The club was forced to sack Josh Dugan earlier this season and because of the depth they have developed, they slotted Reece Robinson into the fullback position and didn’t miss a beat. This advantage that the Raiders have built up over time will be huge heading into the finals….if they can get there!
While every other team heads into the finals knowing that one injury to a star player could ruin their season (See Souths losing Adam Reynolds last year as a great example), the Raiders don’t really have to worry about having their finals run derailed at all.
That means that if things fall their way, and their form is good come September, we could see the Canberra Raiders rise up to be one of the teams to beat.
None of that will matter if they don’t start winning games away from home though. While they have once again turned Canberra Stadium into a fortress, away from home the Raiders really struggle. They are so close to being a top side in the NRL but the struggles away from home are really holding them back.
If the Raiders are in form and healthy come September, I don’t think any team in the finals would want to play them. Lets just hope they make the finals….
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
Jan 30, 2023 0