Here’s why the Canberra Raiders will compete for the spoon next season

Charles Brandling Roar Rookie

By Charles Brandling, Charles Brandling is a Roar Rookie

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44 Have your say

    Look away Raiders fans.

    It was only last year when the Viking clap was booming around the Nation’s Capital as a sniff of a premiership was in the brisk Canberra air. Crucial Edrick Lee mistakes all but cost them their first grand final appearance since 1994.

    Fast forward to the end of 2017 and the future is bleak in the Nation’s Capital. Many ‘experts’ gazed into their crystal ball for 2017 and saw the Raiders painting ANZ stadium green come October first.

    This was not the outcome as Ricky Stuart’s men failed to make the top eight in a very lacklustre season. With a very similar team line-up to their 2016 squad, you wouldn’t raise many eye-brows in saying that the Raiders can compete for the title in 2018, however I believe the decline will only continue and here’s why.

    As the competition becomes closer each year the need to have the best players in key positions has been more crucial than ever. The Raiders have made no notable signings for the second year in a row, exposing them to the risk of becoming even more predictable. Maintaining the same line-up for consecutive seasons is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are a Melbourne Storm fan.

    Nevertheless, the Storm try to resist change based on their continued success over the years. 2017 was not a prosperous year for the Raiders so player turnover may be needed.

    Unfortunately, if you are a Raiders fan, this trend won’t change in the immediate future as it has been published that the club is under pressure to shed players due to salary cap pressures.

    Jordan Rapana Canberra Raiders NRL Rugby League 2017

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    Now, let’s examine the coach, Ricky Stuart. He took the Sydney Roosters to a premiership in his first year at the club and even followed that up with grand final appearances in 2003 and 2004. Following this success, Stuart’s hard disciplined approach grew stale at Bondi with back-to-back poor seasons before he was sacked.

    In his first full year at the Cronulla Sharks, Stuart enjoyed success with the club making the preliminary finals. Once again however, the atmosphere within the playing group became unsettled the following year with the Sharks finishing in an underwhelming 15th.

    It is hard to know whether Stuart could have had success at the Parramatta Eels as subsequently, he quit to take up the gig at the Raiders for family reasons. As the past has shown, Stuart can bring immediate success however, maybe there are underlying issues in his coaching techniques as players seem to loose motivation in playing for the former star over time.

    Now let’s delve into the playing roster. Joseph Leilua exhibits such raw power and speed that in 2012 he was named in the emerging NSW Blues squad. Attitude problems have marred the hulking centre’s career so far shown by his sacking from the Roosters for disciplinary reasons, and his early release from the Knights somewhat due to being on the outer with coach Rick Stone.

    Fast forward to 2017 and the Samoan international has backed up a strong first year with a club with an uninspiring second year yet again. Déjà vu right? Just from history we can see that Leilua thrives with change while not responding well to a stagnant environment.

    2016 was so successful for the Raiders largely due to the impact of their halves and origin back-rower Josh Papalii. Much like the rest of the squad, Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin failed to live up to expectations in 2017.

    Furthermore, on paper the two can’t match combinations such as, Luke Keary and Cooper Cronk, or Michael Morgan and Johnathan Thurston. Papalii had a reasonably good 2017 however comes off contact at the end of 2018 which could propose a distraction as no doubt other clubs such as Souths, will be looking for back-rowers.

    There is no doubt that predicting the Canberra Raiders for the spoon is controversial. Some betting companies have placed the Wests Tigers at $4.50 for the spoon compared to the Raiders at $17. However, the Viking clap might not be enough to inspire the ‘Green Machine’ to a successful 2018.

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    The Crowd Says (44)

    • Roar Rookie

      December 25th 2017 @ 9:27am
      up in the north said | December 25th 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      How in the world could the Raiders be under salary cap pressure?
      I’m struggling to think of any player who would be on top dollar in their position, let alone even one million dollar man.

      • December 25th 2017 @ 9:41am
        Oingo Boingo said | December 25th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        Perhaps the cap works like local Shire budgets , in that , if you don’t spend your budget one year , you receive less the following year , as you have been deemed to have not needed it , therefore the raiders are under pressure to have a reduction in spending.
        But seriously…. there isn’t too many stars there ( besides Tricky ) , so with the proposed increases I also couldn’t see why they would be feeling the pinch.

      • December 25th 2017 @ 10:06am
        Bearfax said | December 25th 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        No TPAs to pay the other half of the player earnings available to some wealthier clubs

      • Roar Rookie

        December 25th 2017 @ 10:53am
        Charles Brandling said | December 25th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

        Nine World of Sports published they were under pressure, and have already let go of Kurt Baptise to relieve some pressure. They should bring in some of the Roosters accountants because obviously something isn’t working..

        • Roar Rookie

          December 25th 2017 @ 11:07am
          up in the north said | December 25th 2017 @ 11:07am | ! Report

          Your last sentence sums it up perfectly.

          • December 26th 2017 @ 9:09am
            Oingo Boingo said | December 26th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

            They could probably take a lot of notice of the Roosters on soooooo many levels, not only on how to manage player salaries.

            • December 27th 2017 @ 10:05am
              Geo said | December 27th 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

              The Salary Cap is only relevant for the poorer teams – some of whom can barely scratch enough dollars together to spend on players. The heavyweights are those teams with access to multimillionaire’s with many companies that can give the best players TPA’s. There is no level playing field – it’s not even close.

              I support the Raiders, so have to be happy if we compete in each game. One looks at the Roosters roster even before they brought Cronk into it, and you wonder how they can have so many good players – about 10 of them would be on a million if they went to Wests or the Raiders. I think it’s why many people such as myself are only watching their team play every week; whereas in the old days I’d watch absolutely every game possible.

              The Raiders were superior when they had half the Queensland SOO team and the best Kiwis – bringing in the Broncos and Warriors put an abrupt end to that. The 2018 Roosters and Broncos (every year) can only be assessed as successful if they win the 2018 Premiership. Other teams are doing damned well to finish in the Top 8.

              Blame the NRL for the very un-level playing field; not the teams. The NRL is a large organisation with many resources; why can’t they get it right?

              • December 27th 2017 @ 11:56am
                Ron Norton said | December 27th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

                Absolutely right. The best comment I’ve read here.

              • December 27th 2017 @ 3:02pm
                RandyM said | December 27th 2017 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

                The Raiders are backed by plenty of wealth. If there was no salary cap I think they would be one of the better off clubs. However you are right in that they don’t have access to the TPA’s some other teams do (Roosters, Broncos, Storm).

              • December 27th 2017 @ 8:44pm
                Oingo Boingo said | December 27th 2017 @ 8:44pm | ! Report

                Please name those 10 players Geo , I can’t wait .

            • December 28th 2017 @ 9:17am
              Geo said | December 28th 2017 @ 9:17am | ! Report

              L. Mitchell, Cronk, Cordner, Keary, Fergo, Friend, Napa, Tedesco – and yes I exaggerated. Except for Cronk and Cordner, these guys aren’t worth $1m, but the raiders would need to pay it to coax them out of the Chook Pen. I’d like to live in Bondi and have the benefit of the massive market that Sydney represents. I can’t imagine the Roosters players having to pay for anything either.

              At least I was a massive Easts fan in 1966 when “we” lost every game – it must be a bit easier to support them now. My Dad and I went to every game at the Sports Ground in that year, which obviously preceded the invention of brown paper bags….

              • December 29th 2017 @ 12:20am
                Oingo Boingo said | December 29th 2017 @ 12:20am | ! Report

                I’ve been on board the Roosters since 74-75 , when as a 7 yr old I jumped on the band wagon.
                So I’ve seen plenty of ups n downs .
                And as far as million dollar players goes , I doubt Cordner would be getting that kind of money .

      • December 28th 2017 @ 11:16pm
        Peter Phelps said | December 28th 2017 @ 11:16pm | ! Report

        They are subsidising the roosters.

    • December 25th 2017 @ 10:48am
      paul said | December 25th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

      Still not convinced they’ll be wooden spoon contenders. Won’t make the 8, but still have enough class to be a middle of the pack side and tough to beat in Canberra in winter.

      I wonder how long they’ll persist with Ricky if they do have an ordinary year?

      • December 27th 2017 @ 1:47pm
        Beastie said | December 27th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

        That is true, but I was just having a look at their home game roster during the colder months (May – August) and they only have 3 games that will be played at night with another 5 games to be played during the afternoon period (2:00pm – 4:10pm). I wouldn’t be very happy with that scheduling considering that is one of the main factors in making Canberra a tough place to travel to during those cold winter months as you said.

    • December 25th 2017 @ 10:59am
      Glenn said | December 25th 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

      They took Junior Paulo off Parra by offering 50% more than what Parra was willing to pay. I would assume many of their other players from other clubs are similarly paid.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 25th 2017 @ 11:52am
      Charles Brandling said | December 25th 2017 @ 11:52am | ! Report

      Also forgot to mention the fact they will be without one of their best in Josh Hodgson for a large part of the season.

      • December 25th 2017 @ 3:18pm
        Ron Norton said | December 25th 2017 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

        Good to see you’re living up to your job description at the head of the page: “Roar Rookie”. Too ‘raw’ and too much a rookie to be making such an uninformed forecast. Hope they kick your ass and show you up to be the ‘raw’ rookie you obviously are.

        • Roar Rookie

          December 25th 2017 @ 7:48pm
          Charles Brandling said | December 25th 2017 @ 7:48pm | ! Report

          Hi Ron

          I provided evidence to my forecast. You have just spoken out of offence because your team has been disregarded. I have nothing against the Raiders as I actually quite like them and would prefer them to do well. As for you, I have no doubt you are completely stubborn to any criticism as you absolutely suck. I don’t have a problem with you disagreeing with me but having a stab at me as a writer I do. Enjoy rejecting any form of truth my friend.

          Kind Regards,

          Charlie 🙂

    • December 25th 2017 @ 12:24pm
      The eye said | December 25th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

      I think hes one of the reasons for their mediocrity last year,him and the rest of the spine..undoubtedly great ’16 but him,Wighton,the halfs..underperformed..Ricky ought to experiment with Wighton and Austin changing positions get some dynamicsm at the back

      Still waiting for Tapine to really take a game by the scruff of the neck,at the moment hes too busy wanting to be the tough guy.. looking forward to seeing the Gubbster in green as well..

      Theyve got quite a friendly draw for the first 2 months of the season and too many quality players for them to not be a finals candidate for nnext year

    • Columnist

      December 25th 2017 @ 12:36pm
      Kris Swales said | December 25th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

      Thanks for this Charles – we diehard Raiders tragics know that our team’s annual performance is consistently the inverse of what tipsters predict, so this is the best Christmas present you could give us.

      • December 25th 2017 @ 2:44pm
        Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | December 25th 2017 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

        Yep – the Raiders always perform when there is no expectation on them and disappoint when there is expectation. Who knows how the Raiders will perform. Hodgson is a big loss but it may force Sezer and Austin to finally step up. They have a much easier draw and have only lost Hodgson (ACL), Baptiste and Priest from last year’s squad. Happy for the critics to write them off. But if they do fall over there will be serious questions asked about Stuart’s coaching ability. People quickly forget that they finished second in 2016 and were only one held pass away from a GF.

      • Roar Rookie

        December 25th 2017 @ 8:04pm
        Charles Brandling said | December 25th 2017 @ 8:04pm | ! Report

        To be honest Kris, I hope they do well. An exciting team with plenty of potential, hopefully they prove me wrong. As a team I’d rather be doubted than have expectation like my team, the Roosters. Merry Christmas. 🙂

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