After a couple of seasons of blistering-hot form with my annual fearless predictions, I think I’ll come falling back to earth with an almighty thud this year.
Canberra’s NRL motivation will be spoon-fed. Wooden spoon, that is.
The Raiders have lost nine of their past 11 games to sink to second last on the ladder, only ahead of Cronulla due to a better for-and-against.
The two clubs are level-pegged as $1.90 favourites to finish the season with the most losses with just six rounds to go.
If Canberra finish last, Ricky Stuart will become the first rugby league coach in top-grade history to claim consecutive wooden spoons at two different clubs after he left Parramatta when the Eels finished cellar dwellers in 2013.
But it’s not just Stuart who will desperately want to avoid finishing on the bottom.
The club haven’t won the notorious award since their debut year in 1982.
After Monday night’s 34-18 loss to South Sydney, five Raiders players indicated, to varying degrees, that the wooden spoon would play a factor in their motivation towards the back end of the season.
Prop Brett White said the playing group “certainly had something to play for now”.
“It (spoon) hasn’t been mentioned – and we don’t want it to be. We want to avoid that at all costs,” he said.
Shannon Boyd and Dane Tilse both agreed they definitely didn’t want to win the mock award, while Paul Vaughan admitted it would play a factor.
“We’ll be doing everything we can to avoid that,” Vaughan said.
Perhaps the deciding match on who finishes last on the table will be during the third-last round of the season, when Canberra take on the Sharks at Remondis Stadium.
However, you can bet it’s not a date the Raiders have already circled in their calendar.
“As long as we focus on the old cliche of ‘one week at a time’, then hopefully we don’t end up with the wooden spoon,” Joel Edwards said.
“We can finish off this year the way we want to start next year.”