So the Raiders finally have a confirmed, no going back, lock-him-in-Eddie signing. But it’s not exactly a game changer.
This season the Raiders (allegedly) almost signed James Mansour and Kevin Proctor, and actually did sign James Tedesco only for him to change his mind. The club has also been linked to could-be-anything youngsters like Tautau Moga and Clinton Gutherson.
So one can forgive Raiders fan for being somewhat underwhelmed by the club’s first confirmed signing for season 2015 – Melbourne Storm winger Sisa Waqa.
Raiders fans are led to believe that the club has nothing but cap space, plenty of ambition to recruit high-end talent and the league’s latest wunderkind fullback departing. So when the first move after the Tedesco fiasco is to bring in a no frills winger, fans are understandably unimpressed.
Whilst the Raiders could certainly use a big name recruit or two – if only to prove that the club can attract such a player – the signing of Waqa is by no means an empty one if we make two assumptions.
The first is that we must believe that the current class of Raiders juniors – players like Mitch Cornish, Brenko Lee, Patrick Mago, Tevita Pangai, Jeremy Hawkins and Jack Ahearn – are as talented as we have been led to believe.
The second thing we must believe is that Ricky Stuart is a quality NRL coach and that he has a long term plan to return the club to contention.
If we grant those assumptions – something which is very hard for the Sticky haters – then Sisa Waqa is a perfect signing.
Waqa is an experienced NRL player who has executed his role at an elite club for a number of years. He has played 60 first grade games for the Storm over four seasons after beginning his career at the Roosters. Whilst at the Storm he has scored 35 trys, or just over one per game, which puts him in pretty decent company. He defends competently, makes metres out of his own end and in a good team he does his job of finishing off attacking moves very well.
If Ricky Stuart is the coach that he thinks he is and the Raiders young talent are as precocious in first grade as they have been in lower grades then surrounding them with rugby league professionals like Waqa is exactly the right move.
The Raiders right edge in attack next year will be Josh Papalli and either Jack Wighton or Brenko Lee. The club doesn’t need a flashy big name outside those two, it needs a competent defender and a strong finisher and Sisa Waqa can be that player for them.
It may not set the pulse racing for Raiders fans but signing Sisa Waqa is a solid move in the right direction.