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Geoff from Bruce Stadium

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Joined June 2018

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NRL, AFL and cricket tragic who supports the Raiders, Crows and the Australian cricket team. I've been following sport for over 50 years.

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Marquee players are never going to go to Canberra James so all that sort of talk is just pointless. Canberra hardly offers a glamorous lifestyle. Shaun Johnson is a case in point – you’d think he would be the perfect fit for the problem perceived in the halves but he ended up going to the Sharks and the Sydney beaches lifestyle. To be fair the Raiders probably couldn’t afford Johnson’s price tag and the Sharks had plenty of cash following the bail out of Valentine Holmes to pursue an NFL career. And lets face it there aren’t a lot of marquee players out there.
I think the Raiders recruitment strategy of targeting quality English players (Hodgson, Whitehead, Bateman and Sutton) and picking up players they think can fill a role (Rapana, BJ Leilua, Austin, Sezer, Paulo, Tapine etc) has been pretty successful in recent years. And not sure who the young guns are who the Raiders have lost. Carney and Dugan left ages ago but they were sacked for disciplinary reasons. But letting Vaughan and TPJ go were huge mistakes – Ricky got it very wrong there.

NRL 2019 season preview: Canberra Raiders

Not sure I agree with a lot of your assessment Scott and I’ll try to be objective here. Ricky is trying to have a much more mobile pack hence the jetisoning of both Boyd and Paulo who can dent the line but struggle to recover in defence. Not sure I agree with your comment that Boyd and Paulo did a pretty good job last year – they were missing in action for most of last season and Blake Austin’s defence was horrendous at times so the decision was obviously made to move them on. Charlie Gubb did little in his time with the club and was moved on last season but I was surprised that Liam Knoight wasn’t given much opportunity. I was disappointd that Craig Garvey was never given an opportunity last season when Hodgson was unavailable and he was given permision to return back to Sydney towards the end of last season. It will be interesting to see whether their replacements can change things.

The signings of Ryan Sutton and John Bateman looks very promising as the other other English signings of Whitehead and Hodgson have been a revelation. Josh Papalii is likley to play as a prop and Tapine may also spend a bit of time there so that should provide more creativity.

All the talk out of Raiders headquarters seems to suggest that Jack Wighton will play at 5/8 so that throws out your inclusion of Hingano in the position who won’t be available for the first 5 or 6 weeks anyway as he recovers from a shoulder dislocation injury. I suspect Hingano and Sam Williams will be used as cover for Jack Wighton. This leaves the responsibility to steer the ship to Aidan Sezer and really I suspect this is his last opportunity to take this opportunity. Apparently the Raiders have focussed a lot on defence in the off season and the move of Wighton to 5/8 is part of that strategy.

The Raiders have recruited Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad from the Warriors and Bailey Simonsson who was a former team mate of Cotric in the Raiders junior program but spent some time with the All Blacks 7s. You haven’t mentioned them in your write up but I suspect they may surprise a few with what they can bring to the team. I’ll be really interested to see how they go in the trials. From all reports they will be competing with Oldfield and Abbey for full back and wing positions with Wighton’s move to the halves and the unavailability of Rapana for the first half of the season.

Here is a possible starting line up for Round 1

1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
2. Nick Cotric
3. Jarrod Croker (c)
4. Joey Leilua
5. Michael Oldfield
6. Jack Wighton
7. Aidan Sezer
8. Josh Papalii
9. Josh Hodgson (c)
10. Sia Soliola
11. John Bateman
12. Elliott Whitehead
13. Joe Tapine
14. Siliva Havili
15. Ryan Sutton
16. Emre Guler
17. Dunamis Lui

Depth
Jordan Rapana
Sam Williams
Luke Bateman
Jack Murchie
Brad Abbey
Bailey Simonsson

I’ll be honest in saying I’m not really sure how they will go – could finish anywhere between 4th and 12th – as are about 9 other teams. It all depends on how the Wighton experiment goes. And I disagree with you on the recruitment assessment. They may not have jagged a Shaun Johnson or Angus Crighton but I’m genuinely excited to see how the two pommy lads and the two full back/wing options go. I’m going to stick my neck out and say they’ll finish 6th.

NRL 2019 season preview: Canberra Raiders

Have to agree Matt – how Brisbane didn’t get two or three from that list is nothing short of reprehensible – whoever was in charge of Broncos recruitment should have been sacked – and they only got Milford because he was homesick – if he was a bit more mature they may have missed out on him as well. But you have to hand it to the Storm – whoever was responsible for getting Smith, Slater and Cronk and more recently Cameron Munster should get a million dollar bonus.

Who are NRL HQ's least to most favourite teams?

Can’t disagree too much with your rankings Tim but I think we need to give some credit to some of the more successful teams at the way they’ve been able to maintain success over recent years. While the Storm were quite rightly stripped of their premierships for rorting the salary cap they continue to figure in the top 4 year after year despite the loss of Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk and now Billy Slater. They continue to unearth talent, recruit smartly and stick to a successful game plan under a coach who demands results. And as others have said they are virtually ignored in terms of getting FTA games along with pernennial underperformers such as the Warriors, Raiders and Titans.

The Roosters have recruited brilliantly recently with Cronk, Tedesco, Ferguson and now Crighton while at the same time letting half of their squad migrate to Newcastle. Out of your golden children I think its Brisbane that has been the biggest disappointment given their monopolistic market power in a city of 2 million and being blessed with a conveyor belt of young talent from the SE region of Queensland – including Souths Logan which the Raiders has to give up a few years ago. The Broncos should really have won 2 or 3 titles in the past decade with the advantages they have.

Who are NRL HQ's least to most favourite teams?

I was there when Ennis mimicked the Viking clap after the Sharks got the better of us in the 2016 final – can’t say I was happy about it at the time – but I’m starting to think the Viking clap may be a bit past its use by date – wouldn’t it be ironic if Ennis got the Raiders coaching gig at some stage – we could do worse

Michael Ennis will make the Green Machine mean and clever

Loving this appointment – can only be good for the club – the bloke is a winner and comes up with some great insights on Fox – he should also be the full bottle on where the Raiders need to improve – good on Ricky for approaching him as well

Michael Ennis will make the Green Machine mean and clever

Agree – I think the selectors are grooming Head or Cummins to take over from Paine in a couple of years time. Would be amazing if a fast bowler captained Australia – though Bob Willis, Wasim Akram and Imran Kahn have done it before. I’ve been impressed with Head. Could be a real chance to captain as well with a couple more years under his belt. We can’t underestimate how important retaining Paine will be in this process of transition.

Put Tim Paine in the Order of Australia, but not the Ashes squad

True Chris – unfortunately Aaron Finch didn’t quite make the transition from the short form to tst cricket – even though the signs were there against the UAE. And Renshaw is a pretty good example – he has proved himself in the longer form and surprised with is aggression in the BBL recently. Hopefully that is a catalyst for better performances in upcoming shield matches. I don’t think we will really know if Stoinis can cut it a test level until he is given a chance.

The Dukes ball has made Ashes selections a whole lot easier

There aren’t many around like Pajura who only play test cricket. So according to your logic if you only get to play BBL to impress the selectors and perform better than anyone else in that comp you aren’t good enough to play test cricket.

The Dukes ball has made Ashes selections a whole lot easier

Spot on James – if Paine is dropped due to him not making enough big scores (even though he consistently makes 30s, 40s and 50s) – who will captain the team? ………. deafening sound of cicadas ………. and please don’t anyone say Steve Smith. After Smith’s immature performances in South Africa I suspect we won’t ever see him captain Australia again.

Put Tim Paine in the Order of Australia, but not the Ashes squad

And Paine has hardly missed a chance when keeping to Lyon this summer – helping Lyon become a dominant strike bowler for the Aussies – when Wade was keeping (and muffing chances) Lyon was battling to hold his place in the team

Put Tim Paine in the Order of Australia, but not the Ashes squad

Too true – its usually Paine and Cummins who have to put together a gritty partnership to make up for the hotheads further up the order who give their wickets away with irresponsible shots

Put Tim Paine in the Order of Australia, but not the Ashes squad

I modelled my bowling action on Richie Benaud when I was very young and bowled leg spin – changed to Garth McKenzie when I went through a growth spurt and learnt how to swing the ball and then settled on Joel Garner because I loved the way he got so much height into his final delivery stride.

The wonderful thing about cricket is we can learn from watching all our heroes and the opposition when we are growing up and playing the game.

When I was batting I copied a few of Greg Chappell and Kim Hughes shots. Especially Greg’s shots off his pads through mid wicket. This was Mark Waugh’s favourite shot as well. Kim Hughes in full flight e.g. his hundreds at Lords and against the West Indies at Melbourne are some of my favourite cricketing memories. So I’d have to find a spot for Kim in the middle order.

The elegant eleven

Larry Gomes would have to be a candidate in the middle order – the boring ugly calypso antidote to Viv Richards. Richie Richardson, Gordon Greenidge, Dessie Haynes, Brian Lara etc. There are numerous boring pommy batsmen you could put in there – Geoffrey Boycott, Trevor Bailey, Chris Tavare etc.

Alan “Froggy” Thompson and Max Walker both bowled off the wrong foot if I recall. Froggy took 12 test wickets at 56. These were very sorry days when we were struggling to find some decent fast bowlers in the early 70s – and then a young tearaway Dennis Lillee emerged

The elegant eleven

I reckon Mark and Steve played a heap of indoor cricket in their younger days – it sharpens your fielding reflexes incredibly – I saw so many high quality fielders playing indoor cricket back in the day – not sure if today’s cricketers have had the same grounding

The elegant eleven

Wonderful elegant batsman – NZ was very strong when both M Crowe and R Hadlee were playing

The elegant eleven

Loved the way Richard Hadlee used to torment the batsmen with his movement both ways at pace. Hadlee had a wonderful rhythmical action as well from a very short run up. He embarrassed our blokes at times. Lillee had the best action I’ve ever seen along – partiuclarly when he was on his long run up – as did the “whispering death” Michael Holding.

Would be interesting to see a list of the smartest bowlers we’ve seen – you’d have to include Lillee, Hadlee, Akram, Alderman, Massie, Warne, Botham, Philander etc in the list.

The elegant eleven

Fair points Dave – but if we have to bowl Travis Head or Steve Smith we are really in trouble.

Stoinis would have to earn his place in the test team as a batsman who can bowl a bit if you need him and/or the conditions suit. I reckon he could be pretty handy with the ball in England when the main fast bowlers are tired. But he would need to be considered the best option to bat at either 5 or 6. Head and Khawaja have solidified their places, it will probably be Warner and either Burns/Harris/Renshaw to open, Smith will return at 4 so that only leaves no. 6 which Patterson filled with aplomb against Sri Lanka. But I would select Stoinis in the squad to potentially fill the no. 6 spot if Patterson goes off the boil.

Stoinis is currently averaging 43 with the bat in shield in 2018/19 in 4 games and has taken 10 wickets @ 25 which is pretty handy. He’s also the leading batsman in BBL with an average of 63 and the equal leading wicket taker in BBL with 14 wickets @ an average of 14 runs per wicket. I think this is more than a fair achievement when you consider pitches are designed to assist the batsman. I know no one on this site rates BBL form but to be successful in the format you need to know how to read the game and perform in the big moments and I can see Stoinis is excelling in these areas. I can’t see why he wouldn’t translate this to the Test arena. I agree with Healy and Warne that he has to be in the squad and knocking on the door for a spot when it becomes available. I think he’s too good a cricketer to leave out of the squad.

The Dukes ball has made Ashes selections a whole lot easier

Great concept DP – agree with a lot of your suggestions for stylish batsman and bowlers but not sure about the inclusion of Daniel Vettori as the spinner – great competitor but hardly a stylist – I reckon Lance Gibbs might be a candidate for a stylish spinner – Warnie would probably be a candidate but was a bit of a bogan earlier in his career. Warnie had a wonderful action though and probably spent a fair bit of time in front of the mirror.

I did think of Barry Richards and Gordon Greenidge as a stylistic opening combination – they put on a wonderful opening partnership of 234 for a World XI back in 1978 in a World Series cricket match which was some of the best batting by two batsman going at the same time that I have ever seen.

Here is a potential stylist team with apologies for those I’ve missed or forgotten

B Richards
G Greenidge
D Gower
G Chappell
J Kallis
M Waugh
Kumar Sangakkara (wk)
L Gibbs (or S Warne)
D Lillee
R Hadlee
M Holding

Now that would be a team worth watching

The elegant eleven

Sorry Kieran but can’t agree on this one. You’ve made some nice comments on Paine’s contribution as a leader at a time that the team was in crisis following sandpaper fate – but his contribution is far more than that. For a start he is simply our best keeper by a country mile. His keeping to Lyon in particular was exemplary this summer. Wade is about half a lap behind him on keeping ability. And his test batting record is better than Wade with an average of 43 versus Wade’s average of 29. Sure he hasn’t got the test 100s that Wade has scored (two) but he has batted with grit and determination when Australia has been in trouble when the top order has failed with his 30s, 40s and 50s. Paine is one of the few good news stories that we have had to cling on to in the cricket world over the past 12 months so its really quite pointless to think that we are going to get rid of him.

Put Tim Paine in the Order of Australia, but not the Ashes squad

I’m hoping Burns goes as well Kieran – can’t see how he won’t after that innings of 180 against SL – unless he has an absolute horror run in the last few shield games

The Dukes ball has made Ashes selections a whole lot easier

OK – point taken Chris – you can’t get away with anything on this site! I knew he wasn’t getting a game as the Tassie keeper – so for him to leap above Wade into the test team was a big call at the time. I know a lot of people were choking on their Weet Bix over that selection call.

And the name is Geoff – I’m virtually a resident at Bruce Stadium during the league season. I live about a kilometre away from it.

The Dukes ball has made Ashes selections a whole lot easier

I’m not arguing with your assessment Chris. I wouldn’t have Stoinis in my 11 for the First test at this stage – but I would have him in the squad somewhere – maybe as the 7th or 8th batsman picked behind Warner, Burns, Khawaja, Smith, Head and Patterson.

I suspect Harris will be the 7th batsman and Stoinis will be allrounder that a lot of people around here appear to despise. Both Mitch Marsh and Shane Watson were chosen for the 2015 Ashes squad along with 6 batsmen (Clarke, Smith, Warner, Voges, Rogers, and S Marsh) so it seems very likely there will at least be one in this squad and Stoinis appears to be the selectors preference at this stage.

Six fast bowlers went last time (Johnson, Harris, Siddle, Johnson, Hazlewood, and Starc) and two spinners (Lyon and Ahmed) and two wickies (Haddin and Nevill).

I think the only changes to the 11 that played at Manuka if a test match was played in March would be Smith and Warner in for Harris and Labuschagne – and possibly Hazlewood in for Jhye Richardson – even though I love the way Richardson has brought back some aggression back to the bowling attack.

Maybe Richardson will play in place of Starc. I could live with an attack of Cummins, Hazlewood and Richardson. But things can change over a few months as a result of form and injury. If Patterson loses form badly over the next few months I’d be happy to have Stoinis at 6.

The Dukes ball has made Ashes selections a whole lot easier

But he has a pretty good record against the Duke in England

The Dukes ball has made Ashes selections a whole lot easier

Well Shaun Marsh must have performed well against the Duke during his time in England to have an average of 47 so according to Ronan’s logic he should be a lock for the test squad. Do you think that’s going to happen?

The Dukes ball has made Ashes selections a whole lot easier