Through green eyes 2018

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greeneyed
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Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » January 9, 2018, 6:58 pm

Through green eyes: Forever young, forever green

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The news started to filter through this morning. Kato Ottio had passed away, aged just 23, in Papua New Guinea. I could not believe it. I didn't want to believe it. There was a stream of posts on Twitter and Facebook. Then I saw the Canberra Raiders players posting about it on Instagram. Then I saw his new club, the Widnes Vikings, confirming the terrible news.

We now know that Kato had been training with the PNG Hunters and then decided to run home. He was reportedly keen to promote a professional approach to training with his fellow PNG rugby league players. His manager says he started to slow down and then collapsed. He didn't recover and died in the early hours of the morning in a Port Moresby hospital.

Kato was a player who created a lot of excitement amongst Canberra Raiders fans. He'd joined the club on a train and trial contract from the Hunters... and forced his way into the Canberra squad. He made it simply through his hard work. He'd represented PNG in volleyball, but came to Canberra with the aim of making it in the NRL... and supporting his family back home. Above all, he wanted to buy his mum a house.

He never played an NRL match with the Raiders. But I lost count of the times that I saw posters on The Greenhouse suggesting he debut. In 2016, he scored 29 tries in 23 games for the Raiders' NSW Premiership team, Mounties. He was Air Kato.





I was at the match at Penrith Stadium during the 2016 NSW Premiership finals when he suffered an ACL injury. It was a huge blow for Mounties, after they had finished minor premiers... but went on to lose in the Grand Final to Illawarra. It was a huge blow for Kato too... as he faced a long period of recovery and rehabilitation.

I've not spoken to him a lot... but I remember one day at Raiders Belconnen, when Mounties held an open training session in 2017 prior to a "home" game at Canberra Stadium. I'd say less than a handful of Raiders fans turned up for the session, but Kato was there. He was watching his Mounties mates train.

I had a good chat to him in the tiny stand and spoke about his rehab and his hopes for the future. He was still hoping to make an impression on returning for Mounties and press for an NRL debut in 2017. He was a gentle bloke, happy to talk to a fan.

His NRL debut did not happen. He had a great World Cup campaign for Papua New Guinea, and many Raiders fans followed his progress closely. They still hoped he'd get a new contract for 2018. Instead, he had an opportunity in the European Super League, with Widnes, after making such an impression in the tournament.

I've just watched video of the PNG Hunters players visiting Kato Ottio's home village. The scenes of grief moved me to tears, not for the first time today.

I didn't know Kato Ottio as his friends at the Canberra Raiders did. He may not have donned the green in an NRL match, but I will always remember him in the green jersey in the Auckland Nines and in pre-season. And at that early evening at Mounties training at Kippax.

Forever young, forever green.

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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by Green eyed Mick » January 9, 2018, 7:51 pm

Thanks GE.

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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by T_R » January 9, 2018, 8:03 pm

Well written, old boy.

What a ghastly, ghastly thing to happen.
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Son, we live in a world that has forums, and those forums have to be guarded by Mods. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Nickman? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Lucy, and you curse GE. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know -- that GE’s moderation, while tragic, probably saved lives; and my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, keeps threads on track and under the appropriately sized, highlighted green headings.
You want moderation because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that forum -- you need me on that forum. We use words like "stay on topic," "use the appropriate forum," "please delete." We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very moderation that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather that you just said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you get a green handle and edit a post. Either way, I don't give a DAMN what you think about moderation.

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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by -PJ- » January 10, 2018, 6:26 am

He was absolutely electric on that wing for Mounties.

I believe he played a bit of centre as well.

Great write up GE...Rest easy KO.
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#emptythetank :shock:
20/7/18 Shark Park - a dark day in rugby league.

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greeneyed
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » February 18, 2018, 7:36 pm

Through green eyes: As I saw it

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It was a trial. It was hot. It was humid. It was dour. There was a lot of errors, from the players and the referees. And there was a lot of penalties. A lot. It was certainly a trial.

Let's face it. Neither team played well in the trial match between the Canberra Raiders and Canterbury Bulldogs at the Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday night.

The Bulldogs ran out 16-12 winners, Canterbury scoring a try in the last minute... off the back of a ridiculous, blatantly late and incorrect call of a play the ball error against the Raiders.

Let me get this off my chest as well. The Bulldogs' first try from Michael Lichaa was also clearly no try... clearly short. And I promised not to talk about refereeing errors, costing teams matches... and if it didn't happen so regularly, I guess I wouldn't be tempted.

In any case, the result is much less important than how the Raiders played. Ricky Stuart said before the match that he was treating this trial more seriously than most, because it would tell him a lot about combinations. The combinations needed to cover the loss of Josh Hodgson, in particular.

Sam Williams started in the halves with Aidan Sezer, while Siliva Havili was given first chance at dummy half. Blake Austin was reserved for the second half. Havili, then Sezer, then Craig Garvey all spent time at hooker.

So how did it turn out? Sam Williams was probably the best of the halves in my view. He has a good organising game, a good kicking game. He set up a good try for Sia Soliola, produced one forced line drop out and made some good touch finders.

Aidan Sezer was probably the best dummy half, despite limited minutes in the role. Havili lasted around 35 minutes in the first half. He did not provide creative spark or produce danger in terms of dummy half running. It's very difficult to be Josh Hodgson. He was dependable, solid, did what what asked. Garvey seems to be behind Havili in the selection stakes.

But, I think the trial underlines this: the Raiders need their best three play makers on the field. And they are Sam Williams, Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin.

What else did we learn? Well, I hate to say it, but it does not seem like the Raiders have learned some of the lessons of 2017, at least not so far.

The Bulldogs played "aggressively" and produced a lot of "niggle", especially in the first half. Eventually, the Raiders responded and that ended with the Dogs' Adam Elliott and the Raiders' Junior Paulo in the bin.

I'm conflicted here. I'm glad the Raiders didn't stand for some "Dogs of War" tactics. But the Raiders have to respond legally. They cannot find themselves binned as a result of goading in a real NRL match.

The other lessons? Completions, no soft penalties... no soft goal line defence. The Raiders completed at just 69 per cent, the Bulldogs at 87 per cent. Canberra made 10 errors, to Canterbury's six. The penalties finished eight apiece. But it is clear that the referees are going to target the play the ball and the ruck - at least early in the season. The Raiders need to concede fewer penalties than they did on Saturday night. And the first two tries for the Dogs were simply the result of poor goal line defence.

I might argue with some of the refereeing decisions, but the bottom line is this: the Raiders have to play well enough so that the refereeing decisions make no difference. They can't depend on referees making the correct calls. They have to be so good that those calls make no difference. They did not do that on Saturday night.

The attack didn't really look threatening for the Raiders for most of the match. The defence looked like it gave up too many metres, too many post contact metres.

Perhaps the most telling statistic was this... 12-0 to the Dogs at half time, when the strongest line ups were on the field. There's a lot of work still to do before Round 1.

Personally, I would like to have seen another Raiders' trial before Round 1. Canberra seems to be the only club playing just one trial match.

Coach Stuart says that training simulates trial matches well, that more than one trial just risks injury. He obviously knows a lot more about footy than me. But the Raiders started too slowly in 2017, and in my view, just one trial was one of the problems. I believe the first string team needs another opportunity to have a full game in match conditions... prior to Round 1. We can only wait and see what transpires.

****

I spent a few days on the Sunshine Coast, and attended the Raiders open training session at Sunshine Coast Stadium and a charity lunch for the Alex Surf Club nippers - featuring Ricky Stuart - on Friday.

The Raiders spent the entire week in Queensland, based at Alexandra Headland. They visited the Sunshine Coast University Hospital children's ward, they had a surf carnival with the Alex Surf Club nippers, they had a members function, and a sponsors golf day.

They were everywhere in the community, and they did the Raiders proud. I think the Raiders really need to be congratulated for how engaged they were with the local community on the Sunshine Coast this week.

It's great to see, because there are so many Raiders fans in Queensland... all generated in the glory days of the late 1980s and early 1990s. That support needs to be encouraged and regenerated. And the club did a great job at that this week.

It'd be great to see more of that when the Raiders visit the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Townsville this year.

Don't forget that prior to the Round 1 clash on the Gold Coast, The Greenhouse will be running a pre game meet up at The Star's Garden Kitchen Bar and Restaurant, from noon on Sunday March 11! Register here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1999653586974103/

****

Congratulations also to the NRL, Raiders and Bulldogs for the live stream coverage of the trial match.

The local commentators had some challenges... They had Makahesi Makatoa all over the field... when it was mostly Mikaele Ravalawa they were seeing... and Jason Croker really isn't Jarrod Croker's dad. But it was good they had a go.

And one of the commentators, Ashley Robinson, who runs the Alex Surf Club and the Sunshine Coast Falcons... he's a real rough diamond. He hosted the Ricky Stuart charity lunch on Friday afternoon, and he's a character and lot of fun.

I have to say, I had a great time at that lunch, and heard some great stories from Robinson and our coach. For those people who are critical of Ricky Stuart... I just don't understand it. He's tough, he doesn't have much time for fools. He's also funny, he’s entertaining and he is a good man, who does so much for the community.

****

The Sunshine Coast Stadium was a pretty impressive "country" footy ground. The grandstand is small, but very high quality, and the "hills" provide very good viewing. The surface was very good. Not only that, it is right on the edge of a network of waterways, with rowing and dragon boat race facilities alongside... and a new elite sports complex is about to be built beside it. It underlines how Canberra's sporting facilities are going to be increasingly challenged... and how more investment is going to be needed if we are to stay ahead of other locations.

A new Canberra Stadium anyone?

Do you agree or disagree with those assessments? Let us know!

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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by zim » February 20, 2018, 9:31 am

Nice write up mate.
Very interested to see who gets on the bench round 1. Hunt and Makatoa provided a lot of energy. If we're looking for impact Bateman has to be pretty worried. He seems to just be a tackle monkey at the moment but maybe that's what Stick wants from his second lock. Someone just tackling themselves to a standstill. Gubb looks nice and trim and he's not lacking in effort.
Both the new hookers gave good service. Havili could add some running and Garvey needs to be more aware of what tackle it is. Try those all or nothing plays on the 4th not the 5th.

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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by Bay53 » February 21, 2018, 3:07 am

I think Canberra Stadium really suffers from the lack of dragon boat racing facilities near by.

All of course which would be solved if they build a new ground next to the lake.

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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by gangrenous » February 21, 2018, 7:19 am

Or fill Canberra Stadium with water

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greeneyed
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » February 25, 2018, 6:28 pm

Through green eyes: What will 2018 bring the Canberra Raiders?

2018 season preview: The recruits

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After a second placed finish in 2016, it was widely expected that the Canberra Raiders would challenge for a title in 2017, their first in over twenty years. It was not to be. The Raiders missed the finals and finished in tenth place. Canberra lost eight matches by six points or less, three by two points or less, and three in golden point. There is little doubt the team underperformed in 2017. Can they recover in 2018?

Today, we focus on retention and recruitment. In future previews, we’ll focus on the spine, the forwards, the backs and then give our overall verdict.


The Canberra Raiders were in luck in 2016. Coach Ricky Stuart had rebuilt his squad, with some astute signings. But the late signatures of Joe Tapine from the Newcastle Knights and Junior Paulo from the Parramatta Eels added even more quality and depth. In the forward pack, players like Paul Vaughan and Shaun Fensom found it difficult to force their way into the first grade squad towards the end of the 2016 season. In the halves, Canberra had Sam Williams keeping Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin on their toes. The depth in the squad meant there was pressure on every player to keep their place in the team. Many had their best ever season.

But then the salary cap started to bite. The Raiders released players like Paul Vaughan, Sisa Waqa, Frank Paul Nuuausala, Tevita Pangai Jnr, Mitch Barnett and Jarrad Kennedy in 2016. Players like Sam Williams and Brenko Lee were allowed to sign elsewhere at season’s end. And then to the surprise of most Raiders fans, Canberra had to release Shaun Fensom and Edrick Lee on the eve of the season's commencement, just to become salary cap compliant. The good fortune with the salary cap in 2016, had a sting in the tail. And the loss of so much depth was one critical factor in the failure of the 2017 season. There was just not enough pressure on players for spots in the NRL team.

So what about 2018? The cap constraints have continued to bite. Despite the loss of Josh Hodgson for most of the season to an ACL injury, the Raiders have needed to release back up hooker Kurt Baptiste to Leigh in the English Super League... again, just to be salary cap compliant. The planned return of Adam Clydsdale fell through after he decided to retire from the NRL, while youngster Erin Clark was released for compassionate reasons. It has left a huge hole in a critical position.

The list of recruits is modest, but has arguably improved the depth. Canberra is depending on the recruitment of two young hookers, who have been on the fringe of first grade at other clubs - Siliva Havili and Craig Garvey - to help fill the void left by Hodgson's injury. Meanwhile, the return of Sam Williams provides a critical option in the play making roles. Warriors prop Charlie Gubb is a solid signing in the forwards.

There has again been considerable focus on retention, with the club aiming to ensure that not all of their top 17 players come off contract at the end of 2018. Josh Hodgson (2022) committed to a further five years with the club, sadly, just before his serious knee injury. Other players to extend their stay include captain Jarrod Croker (2020), Joey Leilua (2020), Elliott Whitehead (2020), Jack Wighton (2020), Nick Cotric (2020) and Jordan Rapana (2019).

But the Raiders seem to be prepared to wait until after the season commences before making final deals with some other players. Those players still off contract at the end of 2018 include Blake Austin, Luke Bateman, Shannon Boyd, Josh Papalii, Junior Paulo, Aidan Sezer and Sia Soliola.

So what of the 2018 new recruits?

Sam Williams

Will it be third time lucky for Sam Williams? Half back Williams (26, 179cms, 84 kgs) debuted in the NRL for the Raiders in Round 1 of the 2011 season against the Cronulla Sharks and made an immediate impression in the 40-12 drubbing. Standing in for the injured Matt Orford, he won the man of the match. He went on to make 18 appearances in his debut season... but could not consistently nail down a first grade spot before moving to the St George Illawarra, then Catalan, Dragons in 2014. He returned to the Green Machine for the 2015-16 seasons, before heading to Wakefield Trinity in 2017.

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I believe coach Ricky Stuart identified the lack of options in the halves as a key problem last season -with an early release secured from Wakefield for Williams at the end of 2017, to allow the Cooma Stallions junior to "come home" for a third time. Williams' strength is his organisational and kicking game - and that's going to be even more needed with the absence of Josh Hodgson.

At 26 years of age, he's now played over 100 first class matches - so he is coming into the prime of a halfback career, with some good experience under his belt. He was given a shot at starting half in the Raiders' only 2018 trial match and played some extended minutes in the role. He made a good fist of it. It increasingly looks like having three halves in the top 17 is part of the plan to cover the absence of Josh Hodgson.

Williams says that he believes he's returned to Canberra from Wakefield a better player. The Raiders will need him to be.

"I'm 26, so I'm still learning and getting better," Williams said. "You learn about your own game the more you play and I feel like I've grown as a player from the time in England. The footy over there becomes a lot quicker with the grounds being harder and drier as the season goes on and I was able to pick the minds of different players."

Things you may not know about Sam Williams: Sam boarded at renowned rugby league school, St Gregory's College during his school years. He played for the Canberra Raiders National Youth Competition in 2009, and was then selected in the 2010 NYC Team of the Year at halfback, alongside the Bulldogs' Aidan Sezer at five eighth. He played for the Junior Kangaroos in 2010.

Charlie Gubb

Charlie Gubb (27, 188cms, 108kgs) is the most significant addition to the Canberra Raiders forward pack - a needed one, given the loss of Dave Taylor, Clay Priest and Scott Sorensen. Given Taylor spent so much time on the sidelines in 2017, that could be considered an upgrade. Gubb has not played a lot of first grade matches in his five years with the New Zealand Warriors NRL squad - less than 50. The most appearances he has made in first grade in one season was 14 - in 2016. So, that is a concern. However, he is now entering his prime years as a front rower - and he's reportedly settled into the Raiders seamlessly over the off season.

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With the Warriors last season he only averaged a little under 30 minutes game time, six runs for 60 metres and 18 tackles per match. The Raiders will probably want to lift his minutes and work rate, so as to take pressure off top props, Junior Paulo and Shannon Boyd. Many fans would like to see Paulo and Boyd split, so that one of the top props, at least, is always on the field. It will be interesting to see what coach Ricky Stuart does.

Blake Austin is one who has been impressed by Gubb's off season.

"We've definitely added some talent and I think Charlie Gubb is going to be really good for us whether he is starting or adding a bit of impact off the bench,” Austin says.

Things you may not know about Charlie Gubb: Gubb has Maori heritage and played rugby union for Wellington College as a schoolboy. He switched to rugby league in 2008, playing for the University Hunters club in the Wellington rugby league competition. Gubb played for the New Zealand Warriors National Youth Competition premiership winning team of 2010... coming off the bench in the Grand Final. He then joined the Wynnum Manly Seagulls in the Queensland Cup, and was part of the Seagulls team that won the 2011 premiership. He re-joined the Warriors in 2013, but has spent plenty of time with the Warriors' NSW Premiership outfit.

Siliva Havili

Siliva Havili (25, 175cms, 99kgs) is a stocky hooker who seems set to take the hard knocks at No. 9 at the start of the Canberra Raiders matches in 2018. He impressed for Tonga at the 2018 World Cup as a dependable, solid dummy half. He is workmanlike and moves the ball wide, well... but he's does not produce the same creative threat that Josh Hodgson does. Few players do. He'll either be sharing the hooking job with Craig Garvey... or fighting it out with him for a spot in the top 17.

Havili has played just 24 matches at NRL level, 14 with the New Zealand Warriors in 2014-15 and 10 with the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2016. He did not play a single first grade match with the Dragons in 2017. Havili was given first shot at starting hooker in the Raiders' trial against the Bulldogs at the Sunshine Coast, and he lasted around 35 minutes. Coach Ricky Stuart does not expect to get more time from him at this stage, given his fitness levels.

He knows he has more work to do, despite performing well in the trial.

"A spot's available for myself, Garvs [Craig Garvey] and we've got some other boys out there that can definitely fit in that position, but I'm just putting my best foot forward and giving myself a better chance to play round one with that trial," Havili says. "I'm pretty happy with my performance, but there's a lot of stuff I can work to better the team. Hopefully I can get that right before round one."

Things you may not know about Siliva Havili: Born in New Zealand's biggest city, Havili was a junior with the Manurewa Marlins in the tough suburbs of south Auckland. He played with the New Zealand Warriors National Youth Competition team between 2011-13 and was a Junior Kiwi in 2011-12. He's played one match for the New Zealand Kiwis - the 2014 ANZAC Test - and eight for Tonga.

Craig Garvey

Craig Garvey (24, 173cms, 87 kgs) is the other new recruit fighting it out for the hooking role. Garvey has played just 23 first grade games over five years, first with the Dragons, then with the Bulldogs. He played three NRL matches for Canterbury last season. Many Raiders fans have seen Garvey as the more likely of the two options at hooker, as he seems to have shown a bit more creativity than Havili.

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It looked like Garvey would be playing in the Queensland Cup in 2018 with the Redcliffe Dolphins, after his two years with the Bulldogs, before getting a call up for the Raiders. He admits he's fortunate to have a third shot at the NRL.

"I think playing for the Dogs I was a bit erratic at dummy half because I'd only get limited minutes," Garvey says. "I just want to play the team way and if I fit the role I fit the role, and if Siliva [Havili] fits the role then he fits the role. I'm just grateful for any opportunity because I was probably just going to the Q Cup for a year and trying to find my feet back in footy."

Things you may not know about Craig Garvey: Garvey was born in Sydney, playing his junior football with the Earlwood Saints and La Perouse Panthers. He played for the St George Illawarra Dragons in the National Youth Competition in 2012-13, captaining the team in 2013. He also represented NSW Under 20s in 2013 and the Indigenous All Stars in 2016.

Brad Abbey

Brad Abbey (21, 183cms, 90kgs) adds some depth in the backs in 2018 for the Green Machine. The Raiders and Bulldogs effectively "swapped" the young fullback for Clay Priest. Abbey was released early by the Canterbury Bulldogs from a reputably rich, three year deal, with a year still to run. He has played just four NRL games, making his debut in Round 3 of the 2017 season. Nick Cotric probably provides the main cover for Jack Wighton at fullback, so Abbey will probably have his work cut out for him, if he’s to make his debut in green in 2018.

Things you may not know about Brad Abbey: Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Abbey has Samoan and Maori heritage. He played his junior football with the Pakuranga Jaguars and Richmond Rovers. He represented the New Zealand Warriors in the National Youth Competition in 2014-15, winning a premiership in 2015. He also represented the Junior Kiwis in 2016.

Other signings

The Raiders improved their depth during the 2017 season with the mid season signings of Liam Knight (prop, Manly Sea Eagles), Royce Hunt (prop, Canterbury Bulldogs, Mounties) and Michael Oldfield (winger, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Rabbitohs and Panthers). They've also signed some exciting young prospects in Corey Horsburgh, a lock from the Cowboys junior system; Stefano Hala, a junior representative prop from the Panthers; and Cooper Bambling, a half and another product of the North Queensland Cowboys. Add to them to some good prospects from inside the club, like outside back Sebastian Kris, forward Kalani Going, half Paul Roache, Fijian winger Mikaele Ravalawa, and prop Emre Guler... and there'll be plenty of young guns for Raiders fans to keep an eye on.

Ata Hingano (20, 183cms, 92kgs) is a very late signing from the New Zealand Warriors. The junior Kiwi was contracted to the Warriors until the end of 2020, but he sought a release to join the Raiders, as he saw his path to firsts blocked in Auckland. He can cover half, five eight and hooker... and has a heap of potential.

Gains: Brad Abbey (Canterbury Bulldogs, 2019, club option for 2020), Cooper Bambling (Mackay, 2018, development player), Craig Garvey (Canterbury Bulldogs, 2018), Charlie Gubb (New Zealand Warriors, 2018, club option for 2019), Stefano Hala (Penrith Panthers, 2019), Siliva Havili (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2018), Ata Hingano (Warriors, 2019), Corey Horsburgh (Cowboys, 2019, development player), Royce Hunt (Mounties, 2019, recruited mid 2017), Liam Knight (Manly Sea Eagles, 2019, recruited mid 2017), Michael Oldfield (Penrith Panthers, 2018), Sam Williams (Wakefield Trinity, 2019).

Train and trial: Jarrett Boland (Sydney Roosters), Bill Cullen (Central Queensland Capras, recruited mid 2017, with option for 2018), Emre Guler, Zac Masters, Fabian Paletua-Kiri, Sitiveni Moceidreke (Rabbitohs, signed with Mounties), Mikaele Ravalawa, Paul Roache, Josh Saunders (South Sydney Rabbitohs).

Losses: Eddie Aiono (Wentworthville Magpies), Kurt Baptiste (Leigh Centurions), Erin Clark (released, after signing new deal to end 2019), Adam Clydsdale (released mid season to Cronulla Sharks in 2017, signed one year deal for 2018, but then retired), Lachlan Croker (Manly Sea Eagles), Masivesi Dakuwaqa (released), Lou Goodwin (released), Jeff Lima (Queanbeyan Kangaroos), Mark McCormack (released), Brent Naden (Newcastle Knights), Kato Ottio (Widnes Vikings, deceased), Clay Priest (Canterbury Bulldogs), Zac Santo (New Zealand Warriors, released mid season in 2017), Scott Sorensen (Cronulla Sharks), Topi Taufa (released), Dave Taylor (Toronto Wolfpack, then Central Queensland Capras), Jordan Turner (Huddersfield Giants, released mid season in 2017).

Re-signed: Josh Hodgson (2022), Jarrod Croker (2020), Joey Leilua (2020), Elliott Whitehead (2020), Jack Wighton (2020), Nick Cotric (2020), Jack Murchie (2020), Jordan Rapana (2019), Sebastian Kris (2018, development player), Kalani Going (2018, development player).

RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION RATING: C. There has been some good progress with retention, but a number of big name players are still off contract at the end of 2018. Recruitment has been relatively modest, and there's a big hole to be filled at hooker. Depth is stronger in the halves, and arguably improved elsewhere. But the depth in the outside backs still looks thin.
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Lui_Bon
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by Lui_Bon » February 25, 2018, 6:41 pm

gangrenous wrote:
February 21, 2018, 7:19 am
Or fill Canberra Stadium with water
working on it now...
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by Lui_Bon » February 25, 2018, 6:47 pm

And Lou Goodwin released. So much for the talent show.
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by -TW- » February 25, 2018, 6:53 pm

Lui_Bon wrote:
gangrenous wrote:
February 21, 2018, 7:19 am
Or fill Canberra Stadium with water
working on it now...
If it was about 5km south it would be under water

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greeneyed
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » February 25, 2018, 7:08 pm

Lui_Bon wrote:
February 25, 2018, 6:47 pm
And Lou Goodwin released. So much for the talent show.
To be fair, it was only a one year deal... his injury put paid to any extension.
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by TongueFTW » February 25, 2018, 8:53 pm

Love these columns. Thanks, GE.

I agree that we have more depth this year compared to last.

In the forwards, I like the look of Royce Hunt. He and Gubb will hopefully be pressuring Bateman for that second prop role (you would think Soliola has the other spot). Murchie will probably debut at some point too, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is in the middle.

As for the backs - Abbey and Oldfield can certainly do a job in first grade if called upon. Whitehead can cover as well, if in dire straits.

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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » February 25, 2018, 8:56 pm

Thanks for the comments TongueFTW!
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by RedRaider » February 27, 2018, 6:31 am

Three more well written TGE's to start 2018. Hopefully the Raiders can match your run of form GE.

On your last TGE, I think the club has recruited well. It would have been better for the players if they had more opportunity via another trial match to blend the new players into the squad. I do not agree with Sticky that training equates to playing matches. More important, 15 other NRL coaches, do not agree either. Particularly this year with 2 new hookers and a new defensive coach - we needed the extra game imo, before we were playing for competition points. Time will tell.

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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » March 3, 2018, 12:53 pm

Through green eyes: What will 2018 bring the Canberra Raiders?

2018 season preview: The spine

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After a second placed finish in 2016, it was widely expected that the Canberra Raiders would challenge for a title in 2017, their first in over twenty years. It was not to be. The Raiders missed the finals and finished in tenth place. Canberra lost eight matches by six points or less, three by two points or less, and three in golden point. There is little doubt the team under performed in 2017. Can they recover in 2018?

Today, we focus on the spine. We've previously featured recruitment and retention. In future previews, we’ll focus on the forwards, the backs and then give our overall verdict.


It was the moment that changed the course of the Canberra Raiders' 2018 season. A World Cup decider beckoned for either England or Tonga in Auckland. It was an emotion charged, semi final at Mt Smart Stadium, played in front of 30,000 people.

Early in the match, Raiders and England hooker, Josh Hodgson ran the ball and was tackled by Tonga's half Ata Hingano and hooker Siliva Havili. It was a regulation tackle, perfectly legal. They did nothing wrong. Hodgson's leg just twisted the wrong way and he cried out in pain. After treatment, he stayed on the field for a short time... but then it became clear he'd suffered serious knee damage.

Hodgson's ACL injury will keep him on the sideline for much of the 2018 season. It leaves a huge hole in the Canberra Raiders "spine" and it is one that the Raiders will find very difficult to overcome. The NRL provides no salary cap relief for major injuries suffered in representative matches. Though there's a plan to provide that, it'll be too late for Canberra. What's worse, the cap strapped Raiders could not afford to hold onto back up hooker Kurt Baptiste. He's been released to Leigh in the English Super League.

The Raiders' hooking woes compounded when the intended return of Adam Clydsdale (retirement) fell through, while Canberra had to release young hooker/half Erin Clark for personal reasons. The Raiders have been forced to turn, ironically, to the Tongan players who tackled Hodgson on that day in Auckland. They've recruited hooker Siliva Havili and half Ata Hingano - as well as young Bulldogs rake, Craig Garvey - so as to replenish their play making options.

The extent to which coach Ricky Stuart will rely on his young, specialist dummy halves, however, is not clear. So what is the plan?

Hooker

We will only really know when Stuart names his team for the Round 1 clash with the Gold Coast Titans. We might not even know until the end of that match. But based on the trial match, it appears that Siliva Havili will start at No. 9.

Havili's a tough and solid player, and dependable. He doesn't have the creative flair of Hodgson, but he can defend... and that's needed too, given Hodgson was the Raiders' top tackler in 2017, averaging 33 tackles per match. Havili did not play a single NRL match in 2017, and coach Ricky Stuart has said that one of the biggest challenges for Havili will be to get his fitness up to NRL level. It doesn't seem likely that he'll play for more than 40 minutes. He played 35 minutes in the Sunshine Coast trial, and that's probably as much as Stuart expected.

The other specialist contender for the hooking role is Craig Garvey. Garvey played only three NRL matches last season. He averaged 18 minutes on the field, making one run for eight metres gained from 19 possessions per match. He averaged just over one kick per match. He possibly has a bit more creative flair than Havili.

Both players are young, and don't have much NRL experience. Havili has played 24 NRL matches, Garvey 23. So it is no surprise that coach Stuart is looking to have his halves pitch in at hooker at times. Aidan Sezer spent 13 minutes at dummy half in the Sunshine Coast trial. He reportedly spent a lot of time at hooker in the internal opposed trial last Saturday. Blake Austin has gone on record saying he'd be happy to play minutes in the role as well. The question, however, is whether chopping and changing during matches will be counterproductive.

Halves

Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin have been the club's No. 1 halves combination over the past two seasons. The pair received more than their fair share of criticism in 2017. And I say that because it is difficult for the halves to do their job if the team is not completing sets and the forwards are not making good metres. Both of those things were a problem last year.

But, "game management" from the halves will need to be better in 2018. The Raiders produced just 19 forced line drop outs in 2017, the lowest in the NRL, while conceding 23 seven tackle sets. Canberra conceded more tries in the final 10 minutes of matches than any other period of their matches. There were too many matches lost in the final closing minutes, the most heart breaking example being the loss to the Panthers in Bathurst. That says something about fatigued players and concentration, but also the lack of an experienced play maker to point the way in the clutch.

Clearly, coach Stuart is looking to Sezer to spend time at dummy half in 2018, and possibly Blake Austin as well. The return of Sam Williams to the club has opened up options for the coach. Williams started the Sunshine Coast trial at half, with Aidan Sezer playing at five eighth... and five eighth Blake Austin on the bench. Sam Williams is an organising half, with a good kicking game - and both are areas where the Raiders need to be better this year. It seems very likely Williams will be in the top 17, the only question is whether he comes off the bench, or not.

The other contenders in the halves are new recruit Ata Hingano and Paul Roache, both hailing from New Zealand. Hingano 20, has played 15 games for the New Zealand Warriors and can cover half, five eighth... as well as hooker. He sought a release from the Warriors, as he saw his path to first grade blocked in Auckland. He's looking for opportunity in green, but it is certain he'll start the season, at least, with Mounties. Roache, a junior All Black, has a lot of talent, but is still eligible for Under 20s. He will play in one of the Mounties grades.

Fullback

There's no doubt Jack Wighton will take his place at fullback in 2018. Like the halves, Wighton received more than his fair share of criticism in 2017 - in particular for his error rate and positioning in defence. He averaged a little under one try cause and 1.5 errors per match last year. But in my view, he was still amongst the top five performers in green. He was in the top five fullbacks in the competition for try assists (13) and total try involvements (25), and sixth for line break assists. And as Ricky Stuart often reminds us, players like Wighton are going to have high error rates, as they have their hands on the ball so often, and are creating opportunities for points.

The 2017 Rookie of the Year, winger Nick Cotric, is the other main contender for the fullback role. Indeed a lot of fans would like to see him given a shot in the position, given he played at the back in junior grades - with great impact. He is, at this stage, more of a powerful runner - and I'm not sure he'd be ready for the role of an extra play maker, something that modern fullbacks take on. New Zealander Brad Abbey is the other fullback option. He's a young player recruited from the Bulldogs in a "player swap" for Clay Priest. He'll start the year with Mounties.

SPINE RATING: C The loss of Hodgson is going to hurt, big time. Coach Ricky Stuart is planning to fill the hole "with numbers", and seems likely to play with three halves in the top 17 (Sezer, Austin and Williams). There's no doubt the spine players have worked hard in the pre season. The young hookers, in particular, have had to build the fitness needed to play long minutes. But it's not just the hookers. For example, I doubt I've seen Blake Austin ever look so fit.

But it remains to be seen how the combinations will gel, and whether the plan to shift the play makers around during matches will work. The combinations will need game time to build. I'm hoping like mad that happens quickly.
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » March 4, 2018, 3:02 pm

Through green eyes: What will 2018 bring the Canberra Raiders?

2018 season preview: The forwards

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After a second placed finish in 2016, it was widely expected that the Canberra Raiders would challenge for a title in 2017, their first in over twenty years. It was not to be. The Raiders missed the finals and finished in tenth place. Canberra lost eight matches by six points or less, three by two points or less, and three in golden point. There is little doubt the team under performed in 2017. Can they recover in 2018?

Today, we focus on the forwards. We've previously featured recruitment and retention and the spine. In future previews, we’ll focus on the backs and then give our overall verdict.


The Canberra Raiders forward pack includes eight current, or former, Test players. Five of them have a combined total of 46 Tests for Australia, England or New Zealand. Four of them appeared in the 2017 World Cup - Elliott Whitehead (England), Joe Tapine (New Zealand), Junior Paulo and Josh Papalii (Samoa). There is no doubting there are high quality players in the Green Machine pack.

However, as a unit, they did not perform as well in 2017, as they did in 2016. The biggest issue was depth. Salary cap pressure saw the Raiders lose Paul Vaughan and Shaun Fensom from the squad prior to last season - very good players who were keeping the top squad honest, and who could cover for suspension and injury. The lack of depth last year was most obvious when the interchange forwards were injected into matches. The team lost impact in defence and attack, the team lost momentum. But the starting forwards were also down in form - possibly because the fitness of some players was off the mark.

So how are the 2018 forwards shaping up?

Props

There is no doubt that Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo are the two top props at the club. There is a school of thought that the two big men should be split - so that there is at least one of the Raiders' top props on the field throughout the match. But I don't expect that will happen. I think coach Stuart will want to have both Paulo and Boyd making an impact in the tough opening exchanges.

Junior Paulo was awarded the 2017 Meninga Medal - the player judged by his peers to be the Canberra Raiders Player of the Year - just one year after his recruitment from the Parramatta Eels. The supporters voted him joint winner of the Fans' Choice Forward of the Year, alongside Josh Papalii. For mine, he was the best Raiders forward of the year.

Last season, Paulo was the Raiders' biggest metre eater in the forward pack (129 metres from 14 runs per match) and number one for offloads amongst the Raiders forwards (33). He was sixth amongst the NRL props for metres gained per match and equal sixth for tackle breaks. He averaged nearly 55 minutes a match, up on the average 49 minutes he spent on field in 2016. At times that meant he was susceptible to an error, a missed tackle, late in the match - and some were unfortunately memorable. He was "credited" with nine try causes - and that was the most amongst regular NRL props.

Paulo came back from the World Cup well off peak physical condition, but has worked hard in the off season to get back towards his best playing weight. I would like to see him spend a few less minutes on the field - because I think his game time was extended just a little too long last year... and that should reduce his try cause rate. If he's going to play extended minutes, he probably needs to be a bit more mobile - but that comes at the cost of impact.

Shannon Boyd finished 2016 on a high, with four appearances for the Kangaroos in the Four Nations series. He was called into the Kangaroos squad for the ANZAC Test in Canberra as a replacement for Josh Papalii - but could not take his place due to a leg injury. However, by the end of the season, even he was not expecting to be selected for the Kangaroos in the World Cup. He admitted frankly: "I don't think my form has really granted me to play for Australia this year."

Boyd averaged 90 metres gained and 21 tackles per match in 40 minutes on field last season. He attracts a lot of defenders, but I was expecting him to lift his involvement rates after his Four Nations experience. Somehow that didn't happen. I think he would probably benefit from being a bit more mobile. He's officially listed at 122kgs, but I did hear on the Sunshine Coast that is probably an underestimate. Interestingly, Ricky Stuart says that he does't mind the bulk, so long as body fat rates are low and on target. Hopefully we see him at his most damaging come Round 1.

Second row

Josh Papalii and Elliott Whitehead started the 2017 season as the starting second rowers, but Whitehead made a big impact when shifted to lock in the clash with the Sharks at Cronulla... with Joe Tapine starting on the edge. I'm expecting we'll see Papalii and Tapine lining up in the second row in Round 1.

Despite some off field dramas, Josh Papalii was still one of the best Raiders forwards in 2017. He didn't have the same purple patch of form that he had in 2016, when I rated him the best second rower in the NRL. He represented Queensland last year, but lost his place in the Kangaroos team for the ANZAC Test due to an off field incident.

His fitness and form seemed to fall away in the second half of 2017. When asked why Josh missed World Cup selection for the Kangaroos, coach Mal Meninga said Papalii was "nowhere near where he needs to be... From a fitness point of view, he went through some traumatic family circumstances that affected him. He wasn't even considered, really". That's some tough love from the Canberra Raiders legend.

He agreed to represent Samoa in the World Cup, and when he returned overweight, he got some more tough love another Raiders legend, coach Ricky Stuart. Stuart told Papalii he'd had his holiday, and was going straight back into training. It's a great credit to him that he's now back on track with his fitness.

"I obviously had to work pretty hard. Coming back from the World Cup with Samoa, I didn't come back in too good a shape," Papalii recently admitted. "I was told from Stick to try and work my butt of on the off-season and I did that. Now my body weight is down, my body fat is getting there. I'm just trying to get back to 2016 form." Every Raiders fan will be keen to see that.

Joe Tapine just keeps on getting better and better. 2017 was Joe Tapine's second season in green, after being recruited to the nation's capital from the Newcastle Knights. He is still just 23 years old, young for a forward, and has a ton of potential. He played 22 matches this past season, and started in 11 matches - five at lock and six in the second row. He looked best when he moved to the second row in the match against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, and he held down that spot for the rest of the season. While New Zealand had a poor World Cup, Tapine played extremely well, and was one of the best for the Kiwis. I'm expecting he'll continue in a similar vein in 2018.

Lock

Elliott Whitehead started the 2017 season at centre and finished at lock and on the bench. In between, he played 17 games in his usual position of second row. He played out of his skin in the Round 22 match against Cronulla when moved to lock, making big inroads against the vaunted Sharks' forwards. He made 169 metres from 17 runs, one offload and 29 tackles. He didn't quite maintain that impact in subsequent games, but I'm expecting he'll start in the No. 13 jersey in 2018.

He was outstanding for England in the World Cup, possibly their best player in the series and in the World Cup final, won narrowly by Australia. For the Raiders in 2017, he was second to Josh Hodgson in the forwards for total try involvements (14) and tackles (31 per match) - and was equal with Josh Papalii as the highest try scoring forward (5).

The bench

Forwards Dave Taylor, Clay Priest, Scott Sorensen and Jeff Lima have moved on, but what of the other contenders for the bench?

Sia Soliola is a certainty for the interchange forward line up. He is often referred to as the spiritual leaders of the Canberra Raiders, such is his influence at Raiders HQ. He is now 31 years of age... and some have wondered whether father time is starting to catch up with him. But that's not really that old these days, especially for a forward. He adds a sense of stability and calm to the team when he's on the field.

New recruit Charlie Gubb is another certainty for the bench in my view. Gubb has not played a lot of first grade matches in his five years with the New Zealand Warriors NRL squad - less than 50. The most appearances he has made in first grade in one season was 14 - in 2016. But he has the size and impact needed for the prop rotation.

Luke Bateman started at lock in seven matches in 2017, but was injected from the interchange bench for most of his appearances last year. He's probably the favourite to nab the third forward bench spot, though his form was undoubtedly down last season. I think he'll come under plenty of challenge in 2018. Dunamis Lui suffered an ACL injury last year, just as he finding his rhythm. He'll be fit for Round 1. Others who will be pushing for a spot include Liam Knight, Royce Hunt and Makahesi Makatoa. Personally, I would like to see junior NSW and Kangaroos representative Jack Murchie make his debut at some stage. He has huge potential.

FORWARDS RATING: B There's plenty of quality in the Raiders' forward pack, but some of the players need to lift on their 2017 performances. In addition, I'm not sure that the depth in the forwards has improved sufficiently, so as to overcome the loss of momentum when the interchange forwards are injected. Time will tell.
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » March 5, 2018, 2:35 pm

Through green eyes: What will 2018 bring the Canberra Raiders?

2018 season preview: The backs

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After a second placed finish in 2016, it was widely expected that the Canberra Raiders would challenge for a title in 2017, their first in over twenty years. It was not to be. The Raiders missed the finals and finished in tenth place. Canberra lost eight matches by six points or less, three by two points or less, and three in golden point. There is little doubt the team under performed in 2017. Can they recover in 2018?

In part four of our season preview, we focus on the backs. We've previously featured recruitment and retention, the spine and the forwards. In the final part of our preview, we’ll give our overall verdict.


The Canberra Raiders scored more points in 2016 than any other year in their history - and the Raiders three quarter line scored more than 60 per cent of that tally. The centres and wingers scored more points than each of the Knights, Dragons, Roosters and Sea Eagles did in total. The Raiders three quarters were simply brilliant, the most potent in the NRL. In 2017, the Raiders still scored plenty of points, but dropped from the No. 1 attacking team in the competition to third. And while the form of the three quarters seemed to drop away too... they still produced an impressive 56 tries, compared to 58 in 2016, from three fewer matches. So while some of the Raiders' three quarters will want to lift their form in 2018, there's really no doubt about who will fill the back line.

Centres

Captain Jarrod Croker just keeps on breaking records. In Round 5 of 2017 he scored his 100th career try. He became only one of five players in NRL history - along with Ryan Girdler, Hazem El Masri, Jamie Lyon and Luke Burt - to have scored 100 tries and kicked 500 goals. He is now second only to Jason Croker (120) for tries scored in green (107). He passed Brett Mullins' try scoring mark of 105 tries in Round 23 against the Warriors.

Croker played his 200th NRL match against the Parramatta Eels in Round 11 last year. He was 26 years and 251 days old when he did it... one of the youngest ever - behind Mitchell Pearce, Craig Wing and Luke Patten. He has now played 213 games - but has a way to go to catch Jason Croker (318). He overtook David Furner, Dane Tilse, Ricky Stuart and Chris O'Sullivan for most appearances in green in 2017. Then in Round 12 against the Roosters, he passed the 1500 points barrier - and became one of just three players to pass the 1500 points, 100 tries milestone - along with Terry Lamb and Hazel El Masri. No Canberra Raiders player has now scored more points (1614) or goals (593).

Despite the milestones, I think it is fair to say the captain would have liked to have had a better season in 2017. He suffered a sickening injury in the pre season All Stars match - a dislocated knee cap - and that seemed to hamper him for a long time. His try scoring rate was down, scoring nine tries, compared to 18 in 2016. But an injury free off season puts him in a position to lift in 2018. He is short priced favourite to re-claim the title of top point scorer in the NRL. Given he is still just 27, he has the potential to go down as one of the Raiders' greatest players and captains.

Joey Leilua was named Dally M Centre of the Year in 2016. He became part of "Leipana" - with Jordan Rapana - the most lethal centre-wing combination in the NRL. They made more metres, more tackle breaks, more line breaks and scored more tries than any other pairing. But he didn't quite reach the same heights in 2017. On average, he made 25 metres less per game in 2016, making 1.5 fewer offloads, one less tackle break and conceding seven more penalties for the year.

Surprisingly, Leilua recently admitted that he lost the "will to win" in 2017 and was in "cruise control". I think that admission is the product of coach Ricky Stuart getting him into the right frame of mind for 2018. He now has a point to prove.

"BJ would be the first to admit he wasn’t at his best last year, he probably wasn’t in his best shape,’’ captain Jarrod Croker said recently. He’s working really hard at the moment, his attitude has been great, he’s looking really fit, he’s ripping into training and getting everything done and he’s hopefully getting back to the shape that he was back in 2016. When he’s fit and flying and he’s happy off-field, he’s hard to stop.’’

Raiders fans know he can be the most damaging centre in the game, he just needs to be fit and focused. Hopefully, that's the Joey Leilua we will see unleashed.

Wingers

Jordan Rapana won the Dally M Winger of the Year and shared, with Nick Cotric, the Canberra Raiders Fans' Choice Player of the Year. For mine, he was the best Raiders player in 2017. Rapana scored 21 tries in 2017, third highest in the NRL and he was top try scorer for the club. This season, he became only the second Raider to top 20 tries twice. Noa Nadruku is the only other Raider to do it.

Rapana was equal first in the NRL for line breaks (27) and second in the NRL for tackle breaks - at an average of over six per match. He finished second in the NRL for dummy half runs, making 9.5 metres per run. He averaged 138 metres gained per match, second at the Raiders to Jack Wighton. There's really not a lot more Raiders fans could ask of him in 2018 - other than to repeat the feats of the past two seasons.

It was a surprise to most Canberra Raiders fans that Nick Cotric, just 18 years of age, debuted on the wing in Round 1 of 2017 - with regular 2016 winger, Edrick Lee, released to the Sharks just prior to the start of the season. He went on to win the Dally M Rookie of the Year, the RLPA Rookie of the Year and shared in the 2017 Canberra Raiders Fans' Choice Player of the Year. He finished just one point away from the winner of the 2017 Meninga Medal, Junior Paulo.

Cotric scored 16 tries, finishing equal sixth on the NRL's top scoring list and second for the club. He was third in the NRL for tackle breaks (six per match) and sixth for line breaks (21). He averaged almost 10 metres per run and over 100 metres per match. Remarkably for a rookie, he made just 14 errors for the season. He'll be looking to avoid "second year syndrome" in 2018, but I've little doubt he will be just as impressive this year.

Other contenders

The Raiders have lost backs like Zac Santo, Brent Naden, Eddie Aiono and Kato Ottio. Kato sadly passed away during the off season, shortly before reporting for duty at his new club, the Widnes Warriors in the English Super League. Michael Oldfield is the main addition to the squad in the backs, joining the club mid season in 2017. He's an experienced and dependable player. The club also has some young guns in the wings... like Fijian winger Mikaele Ravalawa and Sebastian Kris, both very promising players. So I think the depth in the outside backs has probably improved. The club certainly isn't in the situation it was last year - when shifting Elliott Whitehead to centre was the best option to cover injury to Jarrod Croker.

BACKS RATING: B I was very close to giving an "A" rating for the backs... because when these players are in their best form, they are the amongst the best in the NRL. In addition, while there's not a lot of depth in the backs, it has improved this season. I am cautious about getting ahead of myself this year. Some players still have to prove they can get back to their best. But at the very least, this is a top eight quality back line.
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » March 9, 2018, 3:05 pm

Through green eyes: What will 2018 bring the Canberra Raiders?

2018 season preview: The verdict

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After a second placed finish in 2016, it was widely expected that the Canberra Raiders would challenge for a title in 2017, their first in over twenty years. It was not to be. The Raiders missed the finals and finished in tenth place. Canberra lost eight matches by six points or less, three by two points or less, and three in golden point. There is little doubt the team underperformed in 2017. Can they recover in 2018? In this the final part of our season preview, we give our overall verdict.

Towards the end of the 2017 season, with his team poised to miss the finals, coach Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was certainly making no excuses.

“We lost our way too much at the start of the season and I’m to blame too," he said. I blame myself for a lot of it. That’s why it’s going to be very much a brutal review in regards to wherever we end up with our season.”

“At times this year I was trying to keep the peace, keep the environment and keep the happiness, as kids want to come to work to learn and to train hard rather than see the old Ricky Stuart”.

“I know over the last eight weeks — I reckon I’ve gone back to being the old Ricky Stuart.

“I’ve created the environment now at the club where players want to come and play, because I’ve got good staff and they help me create the vision.

“The players are all happy at the club and they want to be at the club, now it’s a situation of let’s get serious about where we want to be.

“That’s their job now, and we’ve spoken about that, that’s their job of wanting to come to work.

“I’m always harder on myself than anyone else in this regard, but I probably could have been tougher on certain areas of our game this year.

“I look back on all that and it burns me at night.

“But it will be a brutal review because we’ve got to be honest in us as a team who want to go forward, and I’m like every other coach I want to win the competition ... it’s not to be this year and that burns away at all of us.

“We’ve got to look open and honestly now in regards to where we’re going, and fix it.”

I've no doubt that Stuart will have left no stone unturned during the off season to change the fortunes of his team.

The team looks fitter than ever - and I suspect that's one of the lessons learned from 2017. Canberra played through to October in 2016 and a number of players went to England for the Four Nations - so it ended up being a short preseason for some. In hindsight, the team seemed to go into the 2017 season a little "underdone".

In addition, the team has reportedly done a lot of work to get back into the right "head space". In 2017, there seemed to be an expectation that things would just happen like they did in 2016. This season, the coach will have set down some very clear expectations of his own.

But Ricky Stuart's job in 2018 has been made a whole lot harder by the serious injury to Josh Hodgson. He plans to fill the gap, "with numbers" - and have his three halves all in the top 17. Sam Williams will start at halfback, and Blake Austin on the bench. It looks like five eighth Aidan Sezer will move to hooker, when Austin is injected. It is risky, given the chopping and changing to combinations. I guess we can only wait to see how that unfolds. The success or otherwise of this strategy will be critical to the Raiders' finals chances.

Ricky Stuart is under pressure in 2018. After rebuilding the club and taking Canberra to a preliminary final, the 2017 season was a big disappointment. The Raiders have now missed the finals three out of the four years he's been at the helm. But just two years ago, he was the Dally M Coach of the Year. You don't don't suddenly become a poor coach, despite the things some rugby league fans like to say. Unfortunately, he cops a lot of criticism. But I, for one, am very glad he's the man leading the club.

Pre-season

The Raiders had only one pre-season trial - against the Canterbury Bulldogs on the Sunshine Coast. It was a match that was lost 16-12 in the final minute, a Bulldogs try in the corner breaking the deadlock. It was not the best performance from either side - but when the top teams were on the field in the first half, the Raiders were certainly out-played. Clearly, you cannot read too much into trial results. And Ricky Stuart doesn't like playing them. He believes that they simply risk unnecessary injury - and intra club trials are equally good preparation. Given the need to build new combinations, however, I wonder whether a second trial would have been beneficial.

NRL draw

The 2018 draw should help the Green Machine. On its release, it was rated the third "easiest" by NRL.com, based on premiership betting for the 2018 season. Only early premiership favourites the Roosters and Storm had "easier" draws. The Raiders have to play those teams only once, along with other top eight favourites, the Eels, Dragons and Broncos. Canberra plays just three of the top eight favourites twice: the Cowboys, Panthers and Sharks.

Play twice: Titans, Warriors, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Rabbitohs, Cowboys, Sharks, Panthers, Tigers.
Play once: Knights, Eels, Dragons, Broncos, Storm, Roosters.

Play at home: Knights, Warriors, Bulldogs, Eels, Titans, Sharks, Sea Eagles, Panthers, Cowboys, Tigers, Roosters, Rabbitohs.
Play away: Titans, Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs, Cowboys, Dragons, Tigers, Broncos, Bulldogs, Sharks, Storm, Panthers, Warriors.

Home stretches: Canberra has four home games in the opening six rounds. Towards the end of the season, the Raiders play three home games in a row, between Rounds 22-24.

Time slots: Thursday night 1, Friday night early 4, Friday night late 0, Saturday afternoon 4, Saturday night 7, Sunday afternoon 6, Sunday night 2. The Raiders play just twice at night in winter, and have six afternoon games at home. The first three home games will be at night.

Television: FTA TV: 5 All matches on STV.

Turnarounds: Five days 2 (Rounds 4-5, 11-12), six days 5, seven days or longer 16.

Origin disruptions: The Raiders have a bye prior to State of Origin I and face the Bulldogs at Belmore in Round 17 prior to Origin III. Origin II is now played on a stand alone weekend, so all teams face no disruption from that match.

Far flung: As usual, the Raiders go on more long road trips than average, given the NRL pits Sydney teams against each other. Not only that, the Raiders are being taken to regional cities by two Sydney teams. The Rabbitohs will play their home game against the Raiders at Gosford, while the Dragons are taking the Raiders to Mudgee. The Bulldogs will also play their home game at suburban Belmore, rather than the Olympic Stadium. There are flying visits to the Gold Coast, Townsville, Brisbane, Melbourne and Auckland.

Round 1: Sunday March 11 Raiders v Titans at Gold Coast, 6.30pm
Round 2: Sunday March 18 Raiders v Knights at Canberra Stadium, 6.30pm 7
Round 3: Saturday March 24 Raiders v Warriors at Canberra Stadium, 3pm 6
Round 4: Saturday March 31 Raiders v Sea Eagles at Brookvale, 7.30pm 7
Round 5: Thursday April 5 Raiders v Bulldogs at Canberra Stadium, 7.50pm 5
Round 6: Saturday April 14 Raiders v Eels at Canberra Stadium, 7.30pm 9
Round 7: Saturday April 21 Raiders v Rabbitohs at Central Coast, 3pm 7
Round 8: Saturday April 28 Raiders v Cowboys at Townsville, 7.30pm 7
Round 9: Saturday May 5 Raiders v Titans at Canberra Stadium, 3pm 7
Round 10: Sunday May 13 Raiders v Sharks at Canberra Stadium, 4.10pm 8
Round 11: Sunday May 20 Raiders v Dragons at Mudgee, 2pm 7
Round 12: Friday May 25 Raiders v Sea Eagles at Canberra Stadium, 6pm 5
Round 13: Bye
Round 14: Friday June 8 Raiders v Panthers at Canberra Stadium, 6pm 7+
Round 15: Sunday June 17 Raiders v Tigers at Campbelltown, 4.10pm 9
Round 16: Saturday June 30 Raiders v Broncos at Brisbane, 7.30pm 6
Round 17: Saturday July 7 Raiders v Bulldogs at Belmore, 7.30pm 7
Round 18: Saturday July 14 Raiders v Cowboys at Canberra Stadium, 7.30pm 7
Round 19: Friday July 20 Raiders v Sharks at Cronulla, 6pm 6
Round 20: Saturday July 28 Raiders v Storm at Melbourne, 7.30pm 8
Round 21: Sunday August 5 Raiders v Panthers at Penrith, 4.10pm 8
Round 22: Sunday August 12 Raiders v Tigers at Canberra Stadium, 2pm 7
Round 23: Sunday August 19 Raiders v Roosters at Canberra Stadium, 4.10pm 7
Round 24: Saturday August 25 Raiders v Rabbitohs at Canberra Stadium, 3pm 6
Round 25: Friday August 31 Raiders v Warriors at Auckland, 6pm 6

Rookie to watch

Jack Murchie

Last year I tipped Nick Cotric as the rookie to watch. But I certainly didn't expect him to win the NRL Rookie of the Year and to be the joint winner of the Fans' Choice Player of the Year. This year, my rookie to watch is young back rower Jack Murchie. It's not a difficult choice. He represented the NSW Blues in the Under 20s Origin last year and won the player of the match. He also impressed in representing the Junior Kangaroos against the Junior Kiwis at Canberra Stadium prior to last year's ANZAC Test. He also recently represented Australia in the Commonwealth Nines exhibition tournament, staged in conjunction with the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth games. Murchie has graduated to the Raiders' top squad this year and has just been re-signed until the end of 2020. Hopefully he gets an NRL debut this year. He certainly won't look out of place.

The verdict

Predicted finish: Edge of the eight

Last year, I tipped a Raiders premiership... so take my predictions with more than a grain of salt! This year, I'm being much more cautious. My ratings of the squad produce either a B- or a C+. That translates as a finish towards the bottom of the eight... or just outside the eight. I think it's going to be tough going for the Green Machine without their star hooker... and the team is going to be scrambling to cover his absence. Making the eight in those circumstances is going to be a good result. The draw should help. And if the Raiders can make the eight, Hodgson should have returned by then. Who knows could happen then!

SPINE RATING: C
FORWARDS RATING: B
BACKS RATING: B
RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION RATING: C
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RedRaider
Gary Belcher
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by RedRaider » March 10, 2018, 4:33 am

All other NRL coaches played a minimum of 2 trial matches. Sticky said:

'Towards the end of the 2017 season, with his team poised to miss the finals, coach Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was certainly making no excuses.

“We lost our way too much at the start of the season and I’m to blame too," he said'

Yet the experience of being 'underdone' by playing only one trial in 2017 was repeated in 2018. New hookers at the Club Sticky says 'They don't need another trial game'. 10th worst defence in the NRL in 2017 and bring in a new defensive coach and Sticky says 'They don't need another trial game'. You stick to your guns when what you are doing is successful. When it is not successful you must change what you are doing.

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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by PhilY » March 10, 2018, 12:12 pm

Part of the reason for the success in 2016 was the surprise factor. Maybe Sticky is planning another surprise attack? Well we’ll find out tomorrow how successful his strategy is. Fingers crossed he’s got it right.


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gangrenous
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by gangrenous » March 10, 2018, 12:59 pm

New strategy. Only play one prop and three halves. Blake starts in place of Boyd.

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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by -PJ- » March 10, 2018, 1:22 pm

Rapana off contract end 2019.

Let's jump on this real quick.

Don't @&$? this up Don..right now, before you even go to bed.
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greeneyed
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » March 12, 2018, 8:48 am

Through green eyes: As I saw it

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Round 1 2018. Gold Coast Titans 30, Canberra Raiders 28. It was only the first match of the year, but it felt like we'd seen this all before. A heart breaking, two point loss to the Gold Coast Titans. A match winning try to the opposition in the final three minutes. It equalled the Titans' biggest ever comeback win. Canberra led by 18-0 after a blistering opening 10 minutes or so... and had an opportunity to go to a 24-0 on the quarter hour mark. At one stage in the first half, Canberra led by 24-6. But lack of completions and ill discipline saw the Raiders throw away the match.

Stats that mattered? After the Raiders had all the possession early, Canberra ended the first half with a 47 per cent possession share. Things were a lot worse in the second half - with the Titans having around 80 per cent possession in the first 20 minutes of the half, and 65 per cent overall. For the match as a whole, the Gold Coast had 58 per cent of the ball. Canberra completed at 69 per cent, the Titans at 74 per cent. The Raiders produced more errors (12-9) and conceded more penalties (7-4) and forced line drop outs (2-0).

As a result, the Titans dominated the metres gained (1340m from 159 runs for the Titans, 1081m from 119 runs for the Raiders). They seemed to off load at will at times (15-5 in favour of the Titans). The Titans had to make around 80 fewer tackles than the Raiders.

You cannot win football matches with statistics like that.

Canberra had plenty of opportunity to secure the win, despite those lop sided statistics, however. The Titans missed more tackles (Titans 37, Raiders 29) and conceded more line breaks (7 conceded Titans, 3 Raiders). The Raiders had opportunity to score two or three more tries, but they could not quite ground the ball, or the last pass went down with the line open.

Some Raiders fans were not happy with the refereeing. One decision in particular, seemed clearly incorrect, when an offside Titans player recovered a kick from a fellow player, with eight minutes remaining. It is tempting to look at things like that, with the scores so close. But that ignores the big picture. The Raiders simply did not perform well enough to win. They had the opportunity to lock down the match early, but too many turnovers put the defence under pressure. As soon as the Titans were given a set of six in the Raiders' half in the final five minutes, I could see the Gold Coast try coming. The Raiders were already spent from long periods defending.

There were some pluses. The running and fending from the forwards and wingers in the opening 20 minutes was impressive. In a late change, Blake Austin started in the halves alongside Sam Williams - with Aidan Sezer on the bench. The halves looked good early... Sam Williams produced two try assists, and Austin one. But, in the end, they were outplayed by the Titans' young halves pairing.

Hooker Siliva Havili was clearly sent on with the instruction to leave nothing in the tank in the opening stages... and he did just that. He scored his first try in green after just two minutes, he made some very good dummy half runs, and his passing was crisp. Unfortunately, his fitness is still building and he was only able to play around 30 minutes.

Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo were split, in a late change to the team. Boyd and Soliola started, with Paulo on the bench. Boyd was very damaging, and produced his best performance in a long time. Joe Tapine also looked very good early, but a hand injury took him out of the game. It looks like he'll spend some time on the sidelines.

So the only choice now is to build on those pluses, as the team re-groups for the first home match of the year - next Sunday night against the Newcastle Knights.

Best performers?

Shannon Boyd. 13 runs for 146 metres gained, 16 tackles.

Sam Williams. 2 runs for 19 metres gained, 21 tackles, two try assists, 177 kicking metres.

Jack Wighton. One try, 11 runs for 115 metres, four tackles.

Top tacklers: Elliott Whitehead 39, Sia Soliola 34, Luke Bateman 34
Most runs: Jordan Rapana 13, Shannon Boyd 13, Jack Wighton 11
Most metres gained: Shannon Boyd 146, Jack Wighton 115, Jordan Rapana 112

My player ratings:

Jack Wighton 7
Nick Cotric 6
Jarrod Croker 5
Joey Leilua 6
Jordan Rapana 6
Blake Austin 6
Sam Williams 7
Sia Soliola 7
Siliva Havili 6
Shannon Boyd 8
Josh Papalii 6
Joe Tapine 6
Elliott Whitehead 7

Aidan Sezer 5
Junior Paulo 6
Luke Bateman 6
Dunamis Lui 5

Do you agree or disagree with the ratings? Let us know!

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Green eyed Mick
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by Green eyed Mick » March 12, 2018, 10:05 am

You're seriously taking the piss giving Paulo and Austin a 6. They were both ****ing abysmal.

Paulo 4, Austin 3.

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zim
Ruben Wiki
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by zim » March 12, 2018, 10:34 am

Good write up GE.
Nice to see you're not putting all your eggs in one basket like thinking somehow when 1 particular player goes off the field or one particular player comes on the whole side falls to pieces. Given how many times Cotric dropped the ball coming out of our own end I thought he might have got a 5 and maybe Tappas gets a 7 but pretty much agree with your ratings.

The Raiders have to figure out how to get the ball back in our hands. Not numbering up correctly on the right seems to be a common issue. It leaves us short and then Wighton has to come in to make up the numbers. This leaves him with too much ground to make up covering the kick. I think he just needs to screw the organising out wide on tackles 4 and 5. Let the boys sort themselves out and track across earlier. They're too reliant on him and it stops him doing his own job effectively. I'd almost rather concede the try sooner because Wighton wasn't there to save their asses than have 4 sets in a row and then concede it anyway. It would leave us with more gas in the tank.
That right unit is also not working cohesively. Some players come up and jam in while some back pedal and slide. When we were holding them out for a few sets in a row they were moving up with decent speed and together, cutting down decision time.
I'd have to look at more video to see why we always appear short but at the moment I just think we've got 1. A player too many caught in the ruck and 2. Whenever an attacking player cuts in he draws 2 defenders. The guy on the outside is coming in while the guy on the inside is sliding out. Need more faith on the inside man.

This is not a new problem. We had the same thing happen last year. I hope the new defensive coach can work some magic over the next few rounds because it's not a matter of dropping a player to reserve grade or switching the bench use up. We have a definite structural issue that rears it's head no matter who is on the field at that time and the less we complete our sets the more it is exposed.

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Simon Woolford
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by sprintman » March 12, 2018, 12:32 pm

Paulo 6?? Off to Specsavers and soon

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El_Capitano
Brett Mullins
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by El_Capitano » March 12, 2018, 12:41 pm

He did score a try...


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greeneyed
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » March 15, 2018, 4:17 pm

Through green eyes: Home again, home again

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Last weekend, a new NRL season started with hopes of a fresh start for the Canberra Raiders. For 15 minutes on the Gold Coast on Sunday night, the Raiders looked like a top four team. The forwards ran with vigour and Raiders players were fending away Titans defenders with ease. The team looked organised, and they were making line breaks almost at will.

The turning point came early. Josh Papalii made a break, but didn't quite draw the defence, his pass to Croker was not well timed. The ball went down... and the Titans struck back, almost immediately. The Raiders defence was caught out... and then the same old things we saw last year re-emerged. There were too many silly turnovers, too much ill discipline, too many silly penalties. Possession swung massively to the Titans, and the defence was put under too much pressure.

The result was a match lost in the final five minutes, by two points. Twice the Raiders led by 18 points. The Titans equalled their biggest ever comeback victory. This was the sort of thing we saw repeatedly in 2017.

Fox Sports is producing the very best statistical analysis for rugby league fans today. This week, they revealed that in the past four years, the Raiders have lost 24 games by six points or less, while winning only nine by a converted try or less. That is a 26.5 per cent win rate in close matches, the worst in the league.

Why is it so? Could it be mental application? Is the team simply not fit enough? Are the forwards too big, not mobile enough, so they can't put in the minutes being asked?

The Raiders' brain trust has certainly been working on it in the off season.

In a very good article in Big League this week, Raiders' captain Jarrod Croker said this about how the team needed to become better at winning in the clutch:

"Closing out and winning the tighter games is the main focus for us this year. Defensively we need to be better as well, but it's those close games that we kept losing and fixing that is something we worked a lot on in the off season.

"There were games last year we didn't take the smart or safe option, for instance where we finished our sets of six. We were giving the other team seven tackle sets instead of turning it over in the corner.

"There were other games where we started really poorly, gave away 18 point leads and then had to fight back.

"There are other little things we can do, like slowing the game down. You can really take for granted how much clock gets chewed up when you kick the ball out regularly, slow the ball down. All that stuff adds up and will help us remain smart under pressure."

So the team knows what they need to do... but executing it is clearly still a problem that will have been occupying the mind of coach Ricky Stuart this week.

Fortunately, it's home again, home again this week. It should be a good fillip for the team and fans after the emotional let down of Round 1.

The Raiders produced some late line up changes in the halves and at prop last week, and those experiments will be continued in Round 2.

Fans have been suggesting for a long time that Junior Paulo and Shannon Boyd should be "split", so that there is one big man on the field throughout the game... paired with a more mobile prop. Shannon Boyd put in a top performance in Round 1, but the other middle forwards struggled to make an impact with little possession. I guess we will have to wait and see how this strategy goes.

Sam Williams will again start in the halves with Blake Austin, while Aidan Sezer covers Siliva Havili at hooker, off the bench. The jury is still out on this approach, as well. The halves looked good early against the Titans, but the young Titans halves dominated in the later stages of the game. Havili made a big impact in limited minutes at dummy half, but it was tougher going for Aidan Sezer, shifting to hooker. Hopefully, the combinations will click this week.

It should be a good contest on Sunday night against a resurgent Newcastle Knights, featuring Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga. My head says Knights, based on Round 1 form, but my heart says Raiders.

****

The Raiders will be paying tribute to the late Kato Ottio on Sunday night. His passing in the off season in Port Moresby, shortly before he planned to head to his new club the Widnes Vikings, shocked everyone who bleeds green. The club is flying his mother to Canberra, and there will be a commemoration after the match. His family will be there, and I'm sure much of the crowd will want to take part. The club is raising money to help achieve Kato's dream of buying his mother a house... and is looking to establish a Raiders scholarship for young PNG players. They are also planning a special jersey later in the season which will honour Kato. It is a great response from the players and club.

****

More happily, the Raiders will run out to "The Green Machine" club song in 2018 - after an unfortunate flirtation with AC/DC song, "Highway to Hell" over the past two years. When this change was announced at the Raiders' season launch, there was a huge round of applause... and I'm sure the fans will respond just as positively on Sunday night. I could never understand why the tradition of the club song was set aside. Nor why "Highway to Hell" was chosen to replace it. Particularly as 2017 turned out to be a highway to hell for all the wrong reasons. But it is great that the club song is now back!



****

Thanks to everyone who attended The Greenhouse meet up at the Garden Kitchen and Bar at The Star on Sunday prior to the Titans game. It was a good turnout... though unfortunately, the weather meant that we were restricted to the indoors. The meet up moved to the new sports bar at The Star at around 3pm... so everyone could watch the afternoon's NRL match between the Eels and Panthers on the very big screen. Sorry if you turned up at the Garden Kitchen and Bar late and wondered where everyone was! But Raiders fans are also footy fans! Thanks to KW for organising the venue!

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****

Every week I rate the Raiders players on a scale of 0-10... and here are ratings for the Titans clash.

Total points after Round 1:

Shannon Boyd 8
Elliott Whitehead 7
Iosia Soliola 7
Jack Wighton 7
Sam Williams 7
Blake Austin 6
Joseph Tapine 6
Joey Leilua 6
Jordan Rapana 6
Josh Papalii 6
Junior Paulo 6
Luke Bateman 6
Nick Cotric 6
Siliva Havili 6
Aidan Sezer 5
Dunamis Lui 5
Jarrod Croker 5

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greeneyed
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » March 19, 2018, 2:03 pm

Through green eyes: As I saw it

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Round 2 2018. Newcastle Knights 30, Canberra Raiders 28. Groundhog Day Mark II. A two point loss in the dying stages of the match, exactly the same score line as in Round 1. Canberra led by eight points with a little under 20 minutes remaining. But that was not enough. Canberra has trouble closing out matches, and it was all too evident last night, yet again.

Stats that mattered? In Round 1, errors and ill discipline saw the Raiders starved of possession for long periods of the match - putting the defence under pressure. This week, the Raiders significantly improved their completions and discipline. Canberra produced fewer errors (six for the Raiders, nine for the Knights), posted an 86 per cent completion rate (84 per cent for the Knights) and won the penalty count (12-7). Canberra had 55 per cent of the ball and 53 per cent territorial advantage.

The Raiders dominated the metres gained (1362m from 156 runs for the Raiders, 1172m from 123 runs for the Knights) and in offloads (11-2). The Knights had to make 44 more tackles than the Raiders... and missed more tackles than the Raiders (29-17). Yet Newcastle made more line breaks (6-5) and scored five tries to four.

There's no other way to describe some of those tries than "soft". There were poor defensive decisions being made around the edges, in particular. The Knights directed a lot of attack down the right side, after Joey Leilua left the field injured - and did so very successfully. It is perhaps understandable that the Raiders defence would be disrupted as a result. But the Knights also exploited the same channel on the left.

The other issue appears to be the fitness of some of the squad. Late in the match, we saw critical errors which turned over the ball. But then the Raiders defence was simply unable to scramble.

The result had a sense of inevitability about it. And ultimately, it left me feeling frustrated and without much hope. Raiders fans have had more than their fair share of heart ache in the past two decades.

The attack looked extremely good at times. The try scored by Jarrod Croker in the 62nd minute was a gem, with a great offload from Junior Paulo and great running from Blake Austin in the lead up. An amazing Paulo offload produced a stunning try for Elliott Whitehead in the 45th minute. Jordan Rapana scored a very good try in the corner early in the match. And then he brilliantly batted back the ball for an Elliott Whitehead try in the 32nd minute, after a Sam Williams kick to the corner. It was great to see Blake Austin doing what he does best in this match - run. So there were some positives.

But the Raiders have now conceded 60 points in the opening two rounds. They were performances that were simply not up to scratch. We knew it would be difficult to cover for the loss of Josh Hodgson, but coach Ricky Stuart has more than that problem on his plate. Other injuries won't help. Joe Tapine won't be available for Round 3, and Joey Leilua and Charlie Gubb are likely to be unavailable. But unless the Raiders' defensive frailties are fixed, it could be a very long season for Raiders fans.

Before I finish, I will mention one thing. The Knights were clearly giving away penalties in the red zone deliberately. There was no sin binning for obvious professional fouls. The Wests Tigers used the same tactic against the Storm... and did lose a player to the bin. Still, both the Knights and Tigers ended up winning. In my view, the referees continue to deal poorly with teams that deliberately infringe.

Best performers?

Elliott Whitehead. Two tries, 12 runs for 77 metres, 21 tackles.

Shannon Boyd. 12 runs for 112 metres gained, 23 tackles.

Jordan Rapana. One try, 13 runs for 121 metres, one try assist, six tackles.

Jack Wighton. 18 runs for 199 metres, one try assist, two tackles.

Top tacklers: Luke Bateman 38, Sia Soliola 34, Aidan Sezer 23
Most runs: Josh Papalii 18, Jack Wighton 18, Dunamis Lui 16
Most metres gained: Jack Wighton 199, Josh Papalii 126, Jordan Rapana 121

My player ratings:

Jack Wighton 7
Nick Cotric 5
Jarrod Croker 6
Joey Leilua 4
Jordan Rapana 7
Blake Austin 6
Sam Williams 5
Sia Soliola 6
Siliva Havili 5
Shannon Boyd 7
Josh Papalii 6
Elliott Whitehead 8
Luke Bateman 6

Aidan Sezer 5
Junior Paulo 6
Dunamis Lui 6
Charlie Gubb 4

Do you agree or disagree with the ratings? Let us know!

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boydy80
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by boydy80 » March 19, 2018, 2:16 pm

I thought Lui was better than a 5. Big involvement from the bench
Long time creeper....... First time poster

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zim
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by zim » March 19, 2018, 2:38 pm

128m off the bench is pretty handy.

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greeneyed
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Re: Through green eyes 2018

Post by greeneyed » March 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

You're both correct, though the Fox Sports stats have him at 118m. I don't often do this... but I'll adjust his rating.
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BJ
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Through green eyes 2018

Post by BJ » March 19, 2018, 3:09 pm

greeneyed wrote:You're both correct, though the Fox Sports stats have him at 118m. I don't often do this... but I'll adjust his rating.
He also had a nice quick play the ball for our first or second try.

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