By Brady Foray Writers
If you were to describe the Canberra Raiders’ 2012 campaign, it would be of Jekyll and Hyde proportions. What started as a miserable display of football, which would see the Raiders lose eight of their first twelve games, turned into a season of success as they finished the regular season at sixth. As the winter got colder the Raiders got hotter, the club only losing three more games throughout the season. The Raiders were on fire before the Rabbitohs halted the momentum and eliminated them in week two of the finals.
With a team consisting of Josh Dugan, Reece Robinson and Blake Ferguson and a forward-pack brimming with international stars like David Shillington, Tom Learoyd-Lars and Brett White expect the Canberra Raiders to do something special. The signings of Joel Edwards and Jake Foster add necessary depth to an otherwise formidable and very capable 2013 squad. The Raiders are a definite dark horse of the competition.
Signings: Joel Edwards (Knights), Jake Foster (Bulldogs)
Departures: Michael Chee Kam (Manly), Drury Low (Bulldogs, mid-season), Mark Ioane (Titans), Bronson Harrison (Dragons), Travis Waddell (Knights), Trevor Thurling (Queanbeyan Blues), Nathan Massey (Mounties), Michael Bani (Mounties)
Key to Success:
While the Canberra Raiders were relatively impressive without him last season, when fit, Terry Campese can be the most influential player on the park. Campese (pictured right) only managed to play seven games last season (and eight minutes of a sole game the season prior) before his knees gave way on him again. On his day Campese can be the best player on the park, the former Australian and Origin player has a lot to live up following his injury-ravaged past two seasons.
Player to Watch:
Reece Robinson played the season of his career in 2012 and kicked off 2013 in the All Stars game earlier this month in similar fashion. Robinson crossed for a hat-trick in the Indigenous All Stars victory. Robinson made a name for himself last year as a genuine game breaker at both wing and fullback for Canberra. Robinson managed to cross the white stripe 16 times and averaged 124 metres per game. Along the way he busted 80 tackles, made 15 line breaks and seven try assists.
Erratic Eddy says:
“The Canberra Raiders are one of the youngest sides in the competition. Give it a couple of years and names like Dugan, Croker, McCrone and Fensom will have representative jumpers to their name and premiership rings to wear.”
“Blake Ferguson needs to pull his head in. He was already poorly received for the way he left the Sharks a couple of seasons ago. Focus on your game Blake and help your teammates out by not being a nightmare off the field”
Strongest 17: 1-Josh Dugan 2 – Reece Robinson 3-Jarrod Croker 4-Blake Ferguson 5- Sandor Earl 6- Terry Campese (C) 7- Josh McCrone 8- Tom Learoyd-Lars 9- Glen Butriss 10- David Shillington 11- Josh Papalii 12- Joel Thompson 13- Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14- Shaun Berrigan 15- Joel Edwards 16- Brett White 17- Dane Tilse. 18th Man: Joe Picker.
Predicted Position: 8th