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The Roar


Harawira-Naera out of hospital and 'back on the mend' after scary incident, Wighton gives Souths glimpse of future

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28th May, 2023
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Raiders forward Corey Harawira-Naera says he’s back on the mend after he was released from hospital on Sunday morning after the scary incident during Canberra’s win over Souths at Accor Stadium on Saturday night.

There was a lengthy delay in play 15 minutes from full-time when Harawira-Naera received extensive treatment after he appeared to suffer a seizure after being brought to ground in a regulation tackle. 

“I’m back on the mend, not in the clear yet but we’ll get some more scans and sort it out,” Harawira-Naera said. “Health comes first but I’m obviously hoping to get back on the field as soon as possible as well.

“I’ve been pretty fortunate to receive a lot of messages about what happened last night. I’m doing a lot better now, so love to you all.”

He was able to speak with medical officials and was coherent when taken from the field in a medicab, receiving a standing ovation from the players, on-field officials and crowd as they sent their best wishes to the veteran forward who was making his return to the NRL after a stint in NSW Cup.

The former Kiwi international was taken to Westmead Hospital in an ambulance for further treatment but was discharged the following morning and is expected to return home to Canberra but his playing future is under a cloud for the timebeing.


For the match itself, Jack Wighton left South Sydney fans with a bittersweet feeling with the 2024 Rabbitoh leading the 2023 Raiders to a crucial victory.

Wighton did not stand out for much of the match but he came up with a couple of try assists late in the contest as Canberra came home with a wet sail to sink Souths.

It’s hard to read too much into Canberra’s 33-26 win over South Sydney other than to say the Raiders could be able to compete with the elite teams come finals time but are not the kind of side that you can bank on. 

Taking on a Souths line-up missing three Origin stars, the unpredictable Raiders floated in and out of the match but their first-half dominance ultimately proved the difference. 

After leading 24-20 heading into the closing stages, they sealed two crucial competition points despite a few anxious moments down the stretch when Wighton sent Albert Hopoate flying away to complete his hat-trick. 

Scary scenes after Harawira-Naera seizure

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said it was a scary scene to see one of his players in distress.


“It was awful,” Stuart said. “I just spoke to the doctor then and he said he had a seizure and they’re unsure in regards to why.

“There doesn’t seem to have been any contact to the head. So they’re at a bit of a loss at the moment as to why it occurred. He’s off to hospital now and all our prayers and thoughts are with him.

“You could see how they (the players) shielded Corey when he was on the ground. They didn’t want anybody to see what he was going through. That’s a form of protection in its own. The way they finished that game, every man had to fill in and do a role. I was very proud of the win.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 27: Corey Harawira-Naera of the Raiders is tackled during the round 13 NRL match between South Sydney Rabbitohs and Canberra Raiders at Accor Stadium on May 27, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Corey Harawira-Naera. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

“When it’s one of your own, you can’t stop thinking where’s this going. The seizure lasted a good 30 seconds.”

Lead changes galore as both teams blow hot and cold

South Sydney took a swipe at the Blues earlier in the week when they released 18th man Campbell Graham from camp due his sternum injury with the Bunnies confident he could play this weekend.


He was ultimately ruled out but Jed Cartwright, filling in at right centre, did his best Graham impersonation to score the first try of the match within six minutes with a strong run to the stripe.

Canberra hit back when Corey Horsburgh unveiled a rarely seen right-foot step to score and a pair of tries to winger Albert Hopoate midway through the first half put the Green Machine up16-8.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 27: Corey Horsburgh of the Raiders is tackled during the round 13 NRL match between South Sydney Rabbitohs and Canberra Raiders at Accor Stadium on May 27, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Corey Horsburgh. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston finished off a typically slick left-edge sweep but the Raiders held a 10-point margin at the break.

Isaiah Tass continued South Sydney’s momentum when he crossed five minutes after the restart and the centre then turned provider for Johnston’s second as the hosts surged to a 20-18 lead.

Canberra regained the lead at the mid-point of the second term when Wighton sent Jarrod Croker into open spaces and the veteran centre then snubbed the five-eighth, perhaps unintentionally, when he drew the fullback to put Tom Starling over. 

After the delay to treat Harawira-Naera, the Bunnies converted a judicious captain’s challenge to go 26-24 up with 10 remaining when Damien Cook capitalised on a Cody Walker grubber to remind NSW selectors he’s not even close to a spent force. 


But the Bunnies couldn’t close it out with Wighton’s set-up for Hopoate and a field goal to Jamal Fogarty completed the scoring.

“There was a lot of things to be happy about,” Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou said. “There was some real effort in a lot of areas and a lot of fight, commitment to what we’re doing but at 24-22 we’ve got to put that game away by doing our job but we didn’t do our job, as simple as that.”

Raiders impossible to predict

There’s no harder team in the NRL to get an accurate gauge on than the Green Machine.

After starting the season with a 1-4 record and looking like they were certainties to finish among the also-rans, they bounced back with a five-game winning streak before copping a 42-14 thumping at home from Manly heading into this match. 

They were favourites in this clash with the Bunnies due to the discrepancies in Origin reps unavailable (one Raider in Hudson Young versus three Rabbitohs in Latrell Mitchell, Jai Arrow and Cameron Murray).


And 80 minutes later, it’s still guesswork to say the Raiders definitely will or won’t be in the top eight after the 27th round is done and dusted in the first week of September. 

They are now just two competition points off first place with a 7-5 record but due to the congested nature of the top of the ladder, are still a long way from being anything close to ensconced in the contending group. 

With an upcoming schedule of the Wests Tigers, Warriors, a bye, the struggling Roosters, Titans and Dragons, there is a mid-year window opening up for the Raiders to advance up the ladder before their third and final bye in Round 20.

Stuart confirmed Croker would be rested for Friday’s clash with the Tigers in Campbelltown so he could bring up his 300th NRL game milestone in front of home fans the following round.