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Opinion

Here's how the Raiders write their Hollywood ending

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29th July, 2021
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The scene: Ricky Stuart is at the end of his rope, another season of over-promise and under-deliver for the Raiders.

Cut to Ricky at the bar having a lime green milk. The newspaper headline says: “The Canberra Faders”.

His phone buzzes, he opens his phone and it’s a photo of a much older Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson holding vodka cruisers on a Canberra rooftop, then the text: “How ‘bout it coach? For old times sake?”

Cut to the rooftop as Ricky walks onto the roof. A montage of Ferguson and Dugan outlining a plan to bring the Raiders back to the top.

They want to bring a rag tag backline full of old Raiders, all playing for pride on a shoestring budget – with points to prove to everyone, including themselves.

First day of off season training the young guns and big forwards arrive to see the old misfits running plays before training starts.

Young gun league superstar Jack Wighton arrives and takes coach Stuart aside and asks him if he is serious, does he want to make the Raiders the laughing stock of the competition. Ricky asks Jack to trust him.

Todd enters the dressing room and tells Jack that a young him would have thought the same as Jack, but the misfits are serious, they’ll give it their all – and they can’t do it without Jack.

Game 1 of the 2022 season, the Raiders backline is:

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Anthony Milford
Jordan Rapana
Jarrod Croker
Josh Dugan
Blake Ferguson
Jack Wighton
Todd Carney

The young Raiders forwards and young guns like Charnzie, Sebastian, Joe Tapine and Josh Papali all buy into the idea. Through the early rounds the old boys, playing with nothing to lose start to fire. Even Sandor Earl and Joey Leilua off the bench are finding form.

Playing with wily experience and determination, they manage to outfox their younger and more highly paid oppositions.

Doubters turn to believers and the Green Machine start to get the fans through the gates and the media can’t stop talking about this crazy experiment – everyone agrees – you can never underestimate coach Stuart.

To win the 2022 grand final they have to beat the dominant Melbourne Storm and the young gun superstar backline of the Penrith Panthers.

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Carney kicks a two point field goal to help the Raiders beat the Storm in the major semi. In the grand final – Milford gets the ball with two minutes to go: he zigs, he zags, he chips, he manages to regather and then throws a miracle ball that hits Blake Ferguson on the chest and Fergo crosses in the corner. Milford wins the Clive Churchill Medal, Ricky gets covered in Gatorade.

Cut to the Mad Monday and the team are all sober, and back on Josh Dugan’s roof – where it all began. The team are wearing their premiership rings, nice clothes and cardigans. They are drinking lime green milk, content and happy with their achievement, having learned a lot about themselves and each other.

We see the team photo on the front of the newspaper, holding the trophy, all smiles. Voice of Ricky Stuart can be heard: “No matter what anyone says about you, we write our own stories.”

Credits roll.

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