Through green eyes 2019

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greeneyed
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Through green eyes 2019

Post by greeneyed » January 3, 2019, 7:27 pm

I thought I'd kick off 2019 with a few "classic" articles from Through Green Eyes in the past... here's the first of them.

Through green eyes: 1989

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I was sitting in my lounge room in the depths of southern Canberra. It was a Friday night and I was watching the game. Which game I can’t remember. It was an ordinary Friday night but I always watched the game. It was cold, as you’d expect.

The previous week, my father had been visiting me and we had watched the Friday night game together. It was the days before Channel 10 went to the wall and left the rugby league rights as an orphan.

But before that, they were running a competition. It involved choosing the best try of the season and matching your choices to the choices of the Channel 10 commentators – Rex Mossop, Graeme Hughes and Peter Sterling. There were five to choose from. What you needed to do was to rank the tries, from first to fifth.

I drove my father crazy. I taped the tries under contention and I replayed them over and over on the VCR. I was going to enter this competition and I wanted to get it right. I asked my father what he thought, but he got sick of it quickly. I ended up choosing two entries. One with my favourite Raiders try running first, the other with the try I expected the commentators would choose. I duly posted them in. Honestly, I posted them in. These were the days before the internet and internet polls were even thought of.

That next week, I was sitting by myself watching the game. As half time finished, the commentators announced that they would be drawing the winner of the competition during the half time break. They announced the order of merit that the commentators had agreed upon. I had picked it!

I rang home. I wanted to tell my Dad that all the pain had been worth it, and that I had at least chosen the right order. He was out, but I was talking to my brother. I was happy just to have got it right.

Then while I’m on the phone, Peter Sterling says that of the 80,000 entries, there are only five correct entries. He rolls a barrel on the field and announces……. I am the winner! I am yelling down the phone and jumping up and down. I had won a car!

In those days I drove a Holden Sunbird. It was the definition of a “lemon”. The heating leaked water, jets of water. As you turned the corner, a jet of water sprayed either the driver's or passenger's feet. I got used to just pulling my feet back on the corners and filling up the radiator before every trip. Still it was metallic blue.

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But now I had won a Nissan Pulsar Q. It was red. It went very fast, faster because it was red. I thought it was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

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I decided that Peter Sterling was the best footballer ever. He drew out my name.

Everyone told me how lucky I was. Strangers rang me that night to wish me luck. Some even rang me and abused me for winning. I told them that it was not luck, but a matter of skill. I hadn’t watched years of football for nothing.

I had my Pulsar delivered two weeks before the Grand Final.

It was an exciting time, as my team, the Canberra Raiders were storming through the semifinals, after finishing in equal fifth. And so it was that I drove myself and my friends to the 1989 Grand Final in my new car. My parents were visiting, but there was nothing stopping me from heading up to Sydney for the match.

The game is well known. The course of it has gone down in the annals of rugby league history. At the end of the game, I had to keep telling my friends that we have just witnessed the best Grand Final ever, they could hardly comprehend it. Eventually we left the Sydney Football Stadium, and I could barely remember what the new car looked like, and we could hardly find it.

We drove home to Canberra, straight to the Mawson Leagues Club, where the Raiders would be returning. I was so glad I was a member, as there were thousands and thousands in the car park waiting for the team. You could not get in unless you were already a member. We got back well before the team, even though they flew. What a night. “We are the Champions” was blaring out in the club over and over. And then the team arrived. It was bedlam. After midnight we followed the team over to the Queanbeyan Leagues Club… it was the more of the same ecstasy. It was all the better because it was the first.

I got home at about 5.30am. My parents had decorated the whole apartment in green, blue, gold and white for me… I got the tape out and watched it with them as dawn broke. I could hardly believe how good 1989 could be.
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by dubby » January 3, 2019, 7:44 pm

Great story Fergus. Loved reading it.

1989 was a great year. I'd share my own story from 89, but it pales in comparison to yours!

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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by dubby » January 3, 2019, 7:45 pm

FTR, for the unwashed, the 89 Pulsar Q would be like winning a Golf GTI or Focus RS.

Seriously good car for the day!

And the Sunbird was dodgy as hell. Starfire motor, went hard but a 1.9 lt donk was limited. As Fergus alluded to, quality was an issue!

They gave way to the Holden Camira.

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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by greeneyed » January 3, 2019, 7:48 pm

I do occasionally see a red Pulsar Q on the streets of Canberra. Faded and old fashioned. I wonder if it was once mine.
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by dubby » January 4, 2019, 8:38 am

Before we're married My wife had an N13 Pulsar, base model. The thing was a dog, terrible car. Slow, unreliable and cost her a fortune in repairs

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Through green eyes 2019

Post by Fuifui Bradbrad » January 4, 2019, 4:52 pm

I had an 89 Holden Astra once upon a time. Dad hated Holdens, but bought it because it was a rebadged Pulsar.
Old man has always been a Datsun fan. First road car was a Sunny. Raced a 120Y and a 200B back when I was 14 and doing Speedways. I’ve inherited a love for the make.

My 89 story. I was 4 going on 5, and would get hypo off Cherry Ripes. My mum would give me one, then set me loose at Pre School, which was organised by the Cobargo CWA. All I remember is being chased by these old ladies, trying to get me to sleep.
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by dubby » January 4, 2019, 5:16 pm

I had a 200b. Top speed of 166km/h.
Handled like a bag of marbles. Not much to offer. Even had a vinyl roof.
Traded it on a VB Commodore.

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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by Fuifui Bradbrad » January 4, 2019, 5:22 pm

Yeah the family car was a 200B station wagon, before upgrading to a Magna. Dad got himself a 200B sedan. I just remember it being loose.
I loved the Sunny. Put as much work into it as an 17yr old unemployed student could haha


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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by dubby » January 4, 2019, 5:31 pm

In 1989 I was 14. I was a gangly kid, playing center for the Yanco Ag High School 14B side. I was the quickest player, and top try scorer. I even scored a few from the kick off.

Our B side was strong. Our backs were better then our A side, apart from a winger.

Our pack though had a few fat slugs, guys with a heart the size of a pea. Fortunately though we had some forwards with some real mongrel. They stepped up every game, played above their size, and terrorised the opposition. Think of a pack full of angry, bigger Alan Tongues and Jarrad Kennedys.

Aside from our own 14A team who went through the riverina knockouts undefeated, our nemesis was Leeton. Very tough games, but they always had too much class in certain positions. Our other nemesis was Darlington Point Coleambally. They had a bigger center, fast too. We didn't beat them in the 13s, but we beat them for the first time at Hillston KO. It was like grand final day.

We played several games that year, only topped by our 14A side, and Leeton. DPC was a week by week proposition.

My biggest thrill was playing DPC before a few hundred people at Junee KO, i think it was. It was the final game, and all Yanco kids came to watch, to support us. Hearing people cheer my name from the sidelines was something I'll never forget. Even the 15s were cheering us on.

It was a close game. It was cold, cloudy, and intense. I gave all I could, and the team gave more. It wasn't enough. We lost.

I played a few games for our A side when they needed. I tried hard, but really lacked confidence. The coach gave me a rap in front of the A team, which was quite embarrassing yet uplifting.

89 was also the year the Raiders dug deep and won many games straight just to make the 5.

Being a B side, yet being among the top sides in a Riverina area was something I'll always be proud of.

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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by zim » January 4, 2019, 8:49 pm

greeneyed wrote:
January 3, 2019, 7:48 pm
I do occasionally see a red Pulsar Q on the streets of Canberra. Faded and old fashioned. I wonder if it was once mine.
You're supposed to "accidentally" bust the front bumper and have it replaced with an off colour cheapy. I can still see my Mitsubishi Colt from 18 years ago getting around the shire (yes I am born and bred shire scum).

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Through green eyes 2019

Post by greeneyed » January 8, 2019, 8:17 pm

Here's another "classic" Through green eyes for the summer...

Through green eyes: 1994

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It was a year I was living in Paris and posted at the Australian Embassy. It was one of the best few years of my life, except for one thing. There is no rugby league played in Paris. And the Canberra Raiders were playing in - you guessed it - Canberra.

When I moved to France, the idea of pay television was in its infancy. The Internet was something I had hardly conceived of. The only way I could see my beloved Raiders was through the tireless efforts of family and friends: taping games and sending them in the mail to me. A phone call on Sunday morning would bring the results. A week later, the stories from the Australian newspapers and an eagerly awaited tape might come in the mail.

In 1993, I just happened to be back in Australia for one week of the semi finals, only to see the Raiders sadly bow out, crippled by the loss of Ricky Stuart in the final round of the season. But by 1994, something fantastic happened. I got satellite TV from the UK. Sky TV. Every week, we got the two matches of the round from Australia. The Raiders were having a great season and I could often see them just days after they played.

The week that I knew the Raiders had made the Grand Final, Sky TV announced that they would be showing the Grand Final live. The UK commentators everyone loved to hate – Eddie and Stevo – hosted the broadcast, along with Gary Jack, who was playing in the UK. That's Eddie Hemmings and Mike Stevenson for those not in the know!

I woke up at 3am that Sunday morning I was so excited. The broadcast started at around 5 am and I had the set warmed and everything ready to watch the game well before it started. I had visitors from Australia staying with me. Friends came to my apartment to watch. One Raiders fan visiting Paris invited himself – terrified he would miss the game otherwise - and I was rapt that he did. We got the champagne and orange juice out to watch the game and even though it was still dark, it was party mode, a Paris version of the traditional Grand Final barbeque. The sight of Sydney from the air in bright sunshine, while Paris was still in darkness made us all homesick.

The match was wonderful from a Raiders fan’s perspective. Everything went the Raiders’ way from the kickoff. The Martin Bella knock on from the first play. The incredible off loads from late replacement Paul Osborne in the first half. And then the fantastic Mal Meninga try to wrap up the game and his career in Australia. The cheering must have left the Parisians in nearby blocks wondering what was going on.

By the time the game was over, the sun was up. We made pancakes, opened more champagne - forget the orange juice - and watched the game all over again from the start. Then everyone went home or out. The Raiders fan from Australia gave me the shirt off his back, literally: the 1994 Grand Final t-shirt he had brought from Australia in which to watch the game. I sat back and watched the game once more. It was a fantastic day in Raiders’ history, but I hadn’t been able to be there. Something felt like it was missing. Until November 23.

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1994 was a Kangaroo tour year, and was Mal Meninga’s final tour, as Australian captain. The team was full of Raiders players. On November 23, the whole Australian team was in Paris for a game against the French President’s XIII. A reception was held for them at the Australian Embassy, and it was a formal affair. But afterwards, almost all of them moved on to the staff bar, Matilda’s. It was a surreal experience for a rugby league fan, just sitting around and chatting to the likes of Laurie Daley, Brett Mullins and Ricky Stuart.

I told Daley what we had done on Grand Final day, and he said, “We haven’t even seen the Grand Final on TV yet”. I told him I had the tape and promptly went and put it up on the big screen in the bar. A group of us then sat down with Daley and Mullins and watched the game over some beers and “analysed” it. It was a late night… and the Kangaroos struggled to beat the President’s XIII the next night in the suburbs of Paris. I’m sure they have no recollection of it, but it is something from 1994 I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by greeneyed » January 18, 2019, 7:44 am

Through green eyes: 1987

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Paul Vautin was a player. Peter Sterling had hair. And I had been a resident of Canberra for five years.

I had moved to Canberra from Brisbane in 1982 - the first year that the Canberra Raiders entered what was then commonly known as the “Sydney competition”.

I decided that I would join with the local community and support this new team, the Canberra Raiders. They played in Queanbeyan, not strictly Canberra, and the poorer of the two towns. But Seiffert Oval, Queanbeyan seemed like a palace to me. The playing surface looked like the proverbial billiard table. They had a grandstand, a real one, and a hill all around the rest of the ground. We had Lang Park in Brisbane, but the suburban grounds there were nothing like this. The Queanbeyan Leagues Club looked like Las Vegas.

Fast forward to 1987. I had slowly but surely become a passionate Raiders supporter.

The Raiders had decided to bring in a new coach, Wayne Bennett, in preparation for the retirement of the inagural coach, Don Furner. The “two coaches” idea was widely ridiculed, but it worked out, with the club finishing the normal season in third place.

No one really believed that the Raiders deserved to finish in third. They were given no chance in the finals. Everyone said Easts coach Artie Beetson had “played” the Raiders into third by resting his key players in the final match of the home and away rounds – with the Raiders beating Easts 22-18.

But what a march to the Grand Final it was for the Raiders team and their supporters.

The Sydney critics were proved right when Easts beat the Raiders in the first week of the finals.

But the following week the Raiders came back to blitz Souths. Steve Mavin’s career was destroyed in an afternoon, with the Raiders ruthlessly attacking the Souths winger’s weaknesses. After only a quarter of an hour, Mavin was hooked from the field after the Raiders scored three tries on his side. Mavin immediately showered and left the SCG. In the end, it was eight Raiders’ tries and even the Sydney critics had to stand up and take notice. 46-12.

And then it was a face off with Easts yet again. Another win and it is a Grand Final spot. The lead up to the game was dominated by news of the possible return of Mal Meninga to the Raiders’ team, after his arm had been cripplingly broken. He came back into the team, his jersey stretching with some extra weight gained during the lay off. His arm was encased in a massive protective guard. But he was magnificent in his return. Meninga literally planted David Trewhella under the SCG turf after he trampled over the top of the Easts' forward on his way to the try line.

The game had swung to and fro, but in a second half surge, the Raiders put the Roosters to the sword. 32-24.

The Raiders were in their first Grand Final. It was truly bedlam in the capital. The first time the Raiders had made it and the city was completely unified behind the team.

By chance, I had arranged for my family from Brisbane to come to Sydney for the Grand Final. I had tickets, my friends had tickets, my family had tickets, in the Dally Messenger Stand. It is the smallest stand at the SCG, and uncovered, but I didn’t care. The Raiders were in the Grand Final and I was going. I remember the Saturday night before, we all went out and ended up at the Kings Cross fountain, and we were all singing the "old" Raiders song. “We are the Canberra Raiders, from the capital territory… The fans are waiting, there’s no hesitating, we’ll be striving for victory…” The Sydney people looked at us like we were nuts.

Then Sunday came around. It was hot. I remember we were in the upper tier, in the open sun, and I ended up taking my mother down underneath in the shade. Everyone thought the heat might tire the big Manly forwards, but it wasn’t to be. I couldn’t hide a couple of tears as the fairytale had a bad end. My mother gave me a hug, though she didn't really understand how I had come to love the Raiders. The coaches and the players made me burst with pride. Vautin was the Manly captain that day…… But there were even better times to come.
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Through green eyes 2019

Post by greeneyed » February 15, 2019, 10:35 pm

Through green eyes: As I saw it

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Trial 1 2019. Canberra Raiders 22 - Parramatta Eels 20. It was the most unlikely of results. It was unlikely right down to the final seconds of the game, when Andre Niko produced a stunning long range try to level the match 20-20. And then Sam Williams kicked the winning goal from the sideline. It never looked like missing. If it were a premiership match, it would have been the third biggest comeback in Raiders history.

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I wasn't expecting it. The predominantly Eels crowd at St Marys Leagues Stadium did not expect it. They had spent most of the match in raptures. Every successful take, every good tackle, and there was wild elation at every try the Parramatta team scored. So, is it evil of me to take some pleasure in the last gasp win, which completely silenced them? My mind went back to the Raiders trial against the Bulldogs last year at the Sunshine Coast, when the Raiders lost in the last moments. And then all those other last gasp losses of 2018. I know it was "only a trial". But it was a confidence boosting win and precisely what the Canberra Raiders need.

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This was a mismatch on paper. The Raiders were running out about 10 players who are ineligible to play first grade in 2019 - from a squad of 24. The Eels had included virtually all of their top players. And it so it turned out to be in the first half - when the Eels played their top team. Canberra showed some spark at the start, but the Eels dominated in every facet of the game in the first two quarters. The Eels led 20-0 after 31 minutes. The Raiders were fortunate to post a try just before half time to likely Mounties hooker Tom Starling - off the back of consecutive penalties.

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The Eels led 20-6 after 40 minutes, and probably deserved to lead by more. But Parramatta rested their top players in the second half... and did not score again. The match never reached any great heights in the second 40, but the Raiders ended up scoring two tries in the last two minutes, winning the second stanza 16-0 - and the match.

What did we learn? First of all, if Jack Wighton moves to five eighth, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is the best option at fullback. Bailey Simonsson started the game at the back, but he didn't have the best of games, with a couple of errors leading to two tries for the Eels. Michael Oldfield didn't play tonight, and there is some speculation he might start the season in the No. 1, but Nicoll-Klokstad is the best option in my view. He produced some great runs, and handled some awkward balls without much problem. Brad Abbey also had a stint at the back, but didn't really come close to matching Nicoll-Klokstad.

Secondly, we have some very good young forwards coming through. New English recruit Ryan Sutton played, and he made an impact, but was also not without error. He's going to face a challenge from the likes of middle forwards Corey Horsburgh and Emre Guler, while edge forward Jack Murchie will be in contention for a bench spot too. Out of those four, I thought Horsburgh was the best performer.

Thirdly, Mounties are going to have a very good hooker. Tom Starling looked lively out of dummy half and scored a try. The top 30 is pretty much full, and he'll probably won't get a top 30 spot this year. But he's a very promising player to have in the wings. That's not to say Siliva Havilii didn't have a good game when at hooker. He did.

One final thing to mention. Mounties coach Peter Marrapodi ran the team on the night... and it was perhaps fitting given the number of likely Mounties players in the line up. But it wasn't a bad first effort running the "top grade" Raiders team!

Memorable moments? The first two tries for the Raiders weren't of the spectacular variety, they were close range efforts. But the two tries in the last two minutes were certainly memorable. In the 78th minute, Sam Williams jinked on the last... and the Eels went wide, while Sam Williams stepped back into a huge hole for a four pointer. In an interesting post script, Williams told fans after the game he believed he converted the try... but it wasn't credited on the score board. The conversion was missed on the live stream broadcast... but the commentators certainly believed it was converted. It should have made the score 20-18 with 90 seconds left. I personally had assumed he'd turned down the conversion attempt, having looked away for a moment, it all happened so quickly. What happened next? The Raiders got the ball back... threw it away... but then Sam Williams took advantage of an Eels error - sending Andre Niko away for a wonderful long range try. Williams converted from the sideline for a stunning 22-20 win. Or should it have been 24-20!?

I won't give player ratings for the trials... but my best performers were Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Corey Horsburgh and Sam Williams. What's your view?

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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by zim » February 15, 2019, 10:49 pm

I think we learned Havili should stop trying to kick. Horsburgh should be in the round 1 side and so should Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.

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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by Kryptonite » February 16, 2019, 5:21 am

Marrapodi should be FG coach

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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by -PJ- » February 16, 2019, 6:19 am

Marrapodi 100%
Stuart 47%

Stats don't lie.
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by -TW- » February 16, 2019, 8:34 am

#FlickStick

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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by RedRaider » February 16, 2019, 11:58 am

Other than the three you have named GE, I thought Seb Kris looked very good defensively as always with him. He appears to have bulked up in the off season. I think he is another waiting a FG opportunity.
Satini also looked good as an outside back. Is he available to play for the Raiders should we have an outside back injury?

I thought all of the forwards did ok. Murchie and Young good defensively. Lui following on from 2018, Both hookers looked the goods. Havili had one kick which went out on the full, but the kick went a long way and he only has to get the direction right for him to be another option when we need to kick out of trouble. If a mistake to learn from has to be made, then make it in a trial game.

I thought the mobility of the team was a strong factor in their comeback once we had some more possession. The kick chase needs some work in retrieving the bombs. A number of them were knocked on attempting to catch the ball. The Eel fullback was good under the high ball so instead of attempting to catch it, maybe look to bat it back to a follow on player. We still can't stop offloads either.

We selected 22 players for this first trial. There were 12 FGers not selected so I think 10 of last nights players will get the call up in Trial 2.

For mine they would be - in no particular order - Sam Williams, Havili, CNK, Horsburgh, Kris, Lui, Guler, Sutton, Satini, Murchie.

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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by greeneyed » February 16, 2019, 1:31 pm

Satini is a Mounties player, and is on train and trial... but won’t get a Raiders contract. So he can’t play firsts unless the NRL gave some sort of special dispensation for an injury. Or we release a top 30 player and contract him.


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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by RedRaider » February 16, 2019, 1:39 pm

Thanks GE about Satini. In that case he would not be picked for the second trial. The spot should go to Sommonson or Abbey.

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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by zim » February 16, 2019, 1:50 pm

I'd say Abbey. Simmo is zero chance of 1st grade this year.

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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by Dusty » February 17, 2019, 2:18 pm

I’d like to see this for the dogs trial
1. Nicoll-Klokstad
2. Cotric
3. Croker
4. Kris
5. Oldfield
6. Wighton
7. Sezer
8. Sutton
9. Hodgson
10. Papalii
11. Tapine
12. Whitehead
13. J. Bateman

14. Havili
15. Soliola
16. Guler
17. Horsburgh

Williams, Abbey, Lui, Collins


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2019: 1. Wighton 2. Cotric 3. Croker (c) 4 Leilua 5. Oldfield (Rapana) 6. Williams 7. Sezer 8. Sutton 9. Hodgson (c) 10. Papalii 11. Tapine 12. Whitehead 13. J.Bateman ----
14. Havili 15. Soliola 16. Guler 17. Lui

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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by gangrenous » February 17, 2019, 6:39 pm

Klokstad sounds like a Russian firearm if you ask me...

Which I notice no one did.

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Through green eyes 2019

Post by greeneyed » February 23, 2019, 9:54 pm

Through green eyes: As I saw it

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Trial 2 2019. Canberra Raiders 28 - Canterbury Bulldogs 22. For a second week in a row it was a come from behind win in a trial match. It is good for the confidence of the team that they could take the win... given the close losses of the past two years... and come from behind wins for the opposition. And a win is a win.

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But I was less than impressed with the performance. The Raiders trailed 22-6 at half time, with the two teams top sides facing each other. The Bulldogs largely ran a "second string" team in the second half, and it took until the final 20 minutes for the Raiders to come over the top of them. In that final 20 minutes, the Bulldogs also had a player in the bin for 10 minutes for repeated ruck infringements.

The Raiders ran their "first team" for 60 minutes or more. Obviously, this is a trial match, and we shouldn't get too concerned about what goes on in these games. The Raiders were without John Bateman, Joey Leilua and Michael Oldfield, rested due to minor injuries. Those players would all be in the starting 13 in a competition match. Canberra was also missing Jordan Rapana and Ata Hingano to long term injury. And one big plus is that there appear to be no additional injuries from this game.

But, for me, there were a couple of worrying signs. The Raiders scored the first try, a fairly simple barge from prop Royce Hunt. But then the Raiders conceded four straight tries, and some of them were pretty soft. Coach Ricky Stuart has said that all the focus has been on defence in the off season. But it looked like the Raiders of 2018 out on the park on that score. They gave up many easy metres to the Bulldogs on both edges. Bulldogs prop Aidan Tolman ran like a centre in scoring one of the Dogs tries. There was little "oompf" in Canberra's defence... and too many points conceded.

The other thing that is of concern was the attack. Coach Stuart has said that the team has spent less time this off season on the attack. And with a new spine, it showed. Aidan Sezer and Jack Wighton have still got a lot of work to do as a halves combination. Aidan Sezer sent a lot of ball to the right in the first half, and it seemed like it was part of a plan, with Joe Tapine often running wide. But with inexperienced three quarters of Seb Kris and Bailey Simonsson on the right side, the Raiders weren't playing to their strengths. In addition, in the first 20 minutes of the second half, the Raiders attack was easily blunted by the Bulldogs, despite lots of opportunity. It was only when Sam Williams entered the fray that Canberra came alive in attack. Jack Wighton got more ball and threw two terrific passes for Nick Cotric to go over for four pointers unmarked. Wighton sent the ball left, and it should have been sent that way more in the first 60 minutes.

Bottom line is... despite the win... there's still work to do before the team faces the Titans in the first round.

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What else did we learn? Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad played most if not all of the match at fullback. He's safe under the high ball and he doesn't make many errors. In fact, I can't think of an error that he made in this game. I don't think we should expect too much of him though. He's only played just over a handful of NRL games, and it will take time for him to build his attacking skill set in the role at this level. In the outside backs, the Raiders will certainly welcome back Joey Leilua and Michael Oldfield... and at some stage, Jordan Rapana. While Bailey Simonsson scored a try, he and Kris will need time to develop at Mounties.

In the forwards, we know the quality of the likes of Sia Soliola, Josh Papalii, Joe Tapine and Elliott Whitehead. I had been hoping for more impact from Ryan Sutton in his first two trials, but it might take him some time to adjust to the NRL. Royce Hunt started at prop, and he was stronger than I expected. The Kalgoorlie Nugget did his chances of a second NRL match no harm in this game. We also saw again that the Raiders have some very good young forwards coming through... Emre Guler, Corey Horsburgh, Jack Murchie and Hudson Young continue to impress.

At hooker, Josh Hodgson looked a bit rusty. He kicked a lot and most of the kicks were not really that effective. Hopefully that isn't what Michael Ennis is bringing to the Green Machine!

Memorable moments? The most memorable tries were the two to Nick Cotric. They were almost identical, with Jack Wighton producing two brilliant, bullet like, cut out passes to an unmarked Cotric for four pointers in the corner. The winning try to Tony Satini... it was a million miles from being grounded. I guess that made up for a fair try to Joe Tapine in the 24th minute that was ruled to be held up. Not to mention an obvious case of "six again" for the Raiders in the red zone not awarded by the referees in the second half.

I won't give player ratings for the trials... but my best performers were Sia Soliola, Joe Tapine... and in the second half, Jack Wighton. What's your view?

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TongueFTW
Glenn Lazarus
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by TongueFTW » February 24, 2019, 5:51 am

Agree with everything - I really, really want to see Horsburgh get a spot on the bench, don't want another Pangai Jr situation. Surely Luke Bateman's time in first grade is up with Murchie, Guler and Horsburgh coming through.

gergreg
Gary Belcher
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by gergreg » February 24, 2019, 6:33 am

I thought Bateman looked better than the first trial but I'm really struggling to see what he offers above and beyond what Horsburgh, Murchie and Guler can provide. Horsburgh being the pick for mine.

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LastRaider
Brett Mullins
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by LastRaider » February 24, 2019, 8:11 am

Horsburgh did enough for me to make starting prop. If you have Sia and Papa our there with him to begin i think it would work well. He adds a bit of fire into the pack


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rolhai
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by rolhai » February 24, 2019, 1:59 pm

Williams has thoroughly outplayed Sezer and has looked to be the better option for the team, offensively and game management wise.

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Green eyed Mick
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by Green eyed Mick » February 24, 2019, 2:48 pm

I will be disappointed if Horsburg misses out. He was our best forward across both trials. Hunt was probably our second best.

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zim
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by zim » February 24, 2019, 2:57 pm

Hard to pick a half on trial form. Williams was against a passive reserve grade defensive line whereas the dogs line speed in the first half was excellent.
That same line also helped Wighton get going in the second half.
Until there's more proof of improved defense from Sam I'll be sticking with Aidan.

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BJ
David Furner
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by BJ » February 24, 2019, 4:00 pm

I’m surprised so many are calling for Sam Williams over Sezer. Sam must have suddenly learnt how to tackle the likes of Toumalolo, Fifita and Sam Burgess over the off season.

During NRL games the attacking team try and isolate a weak defender in the line, I don’t think this happens to the same level in trial games.

RedRaider
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by RedRaider » March 1, 2019, 9:06 pm

If defence was the off season focus then 'we should've gone to spec savers'. Four tries scored against us in the first half with our 'best' available side on the park against the Dogs. It was poor. Once again easy meters made against us putting the Dogs into position to go for our try line. When we are placed under pressure we are likely to (and do) fold.

I looked up some stats from the 2018 season. The Premiership winning Roosters conceded 54 tries over 24 matches in season 2018 and we conceded 86. More than an extra try per game. They are making their tackles more often than we are. The Chooks averaged about 24 more tackles per game. This was not due to them having less possession in matches. It was due to more commitment in defence.

Keghead
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by Keghead » March 2, 2019, 8:31 am

I’ve heard we have lost our old wrestling coach this could be bad or good not sure .


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LastRaider
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by LastRaider » March 2, 2019, 10:42 am

Keghead wrote:I’ve heard we have lost our old wrestling coach this could be bad or good not sure .


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That’s a good thing


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greeneyed
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Re: Through green eyes 2019

Post by greeneyed » March 10, 2019, 7:39 pm

Through green eyes: What will 2019 bring the Canberra Raiders?

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After a second placed finish in 2016, it was widely expected that the Canberra Raiders were on their way to the top. It was not to be. It was followed by two seasons where the Raiders missed the finals and finished in tenth place.

In 2017, Canberra lost eight matches by six points or less, three by two points or less, and three in golden point. The narrow losses happened all over again in 2018. The Raiders ended the season with eight losses by four points or less, and five losses by two points or less. The season started with three losses in a row by two points or less, less than a converted try in aggregate. It set the tone for the season. The Raiders were repeatedly in a position to win in the final stages... but buckled. They lost five games where they led by 10 points or more.

2018 was hampered by the significant loss of two key players for an extended period. Hooker Josh Hodgson missed the first half of the season due an ACL injury, while fullback Jack Wighton missed the second half of the year due to suspension for an off field incident.

The Raiders have now made the finals in just one of the past six seasons, three times in the past decade. If it is not the worst period in Canberra Raiders history, it is very close. In 2019 it will have been 25 years since the Raiders won their last premiership. Only the Eels have experienced a longer premiership drought. Will the Raiders be able to turn it around in 2019?

The recruits

The Raiders lost some big names at the end of 2018 - behemoth props Junior Paulo and Shannon Boyd and five eighth Blake Austin. Canberra was simply not prepared to match the big money on offer at other clubs for Paulo and Boyd, while in the end, the Raiders decided to go in a different direction at five eighth.

On the other side of the ledger, the biggest signing is Wigan and England forward, John Bateman. Bateman can cover second row and lock... and centre as well. He's not a big player in terms of stature, but his contributions and work rate are huge. He's a first class signing. Bateman's fellow Wigan team mate, Ryan Sutton has also made the trek from England to Australia. He's a young forward, but he has plenty of experience as a regular interchange player for Wigan. The only other addition to the forwards is JJ Collins, but he'll probably only be called on in the event of injury.



The most notable addition to the squad in the backs is fullback/winger, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. He's a talented player, but has struggled to force his way into the New Zealand Warriors top grade, given the players in front of him. Canberra is also banking on former All Blacks Sevens winger - and Raiders junior - Bailey Simonsson making an impression. Initially signed on a development contract, he was promoted into the top 30 just before the start of the season.

The likes of Josh Papalii and Joe Tapine were locked in long term during 2018. But given the big name losses, many Raiders fans have been left wondering why there was not more space left in the salary cap for some bigger name recruits. The Raiders reportedly chased Shaun Johnson, but didn't have sufficient coin.

The forwards

The Raiders have had one of the biggest forward packs in the competition for some years, but in 2019 they have clearly gone for mobility over size. The back row is stacked with quality, with four internationals available at second row and lock. The stocks at prop, however, are looking a bit thin. Some commentators seem to think John Bateman will start on the bench, but I don't Ricky Stuart has recruited an England international to be a benchie. After successfully moving into the middle, at lock, last year, Josh Papalii looks to be the best option for a starting prop - while my bet is Bateman will step into the No. 13 jersey. That leaves the established second row of Joe Tapine and Elliott Whitehead in place.



My choice for the other starting prop would be Sia Soliola, but don't be surprised if Royce Hunt is Ricky Stuart's traditional left field Round 1 selection. I'd have Ryan Sutton and Emre Guler covering prop off the bench. Sutton didn't exactly set the world on fire in the trials, but I doubt one of the major recruits for 2019 will be playing for Mounties in Round 1. Emre Guler was the Rookie of the Year for the Raiders last season, putting in some good performances in three matches towards the end of the season. He deserves a spot in the top 17.

I expect coach Ricky Stuart will also include Luke Bateman on the bench, though I personally think Corey Horsburgh should be rewarded with an interchange spot - given some outstanding trial performances. Horsburgh is the No. 1 young player to watch at the club - and he is my tip for Rookie of the Year for the Raiders this season. Jack Murchie is another talented young back rower who will press for a spot, as will journeyman prop Dunamis Lui. I also want to mention Hudson Young, promoted this year to the top 30. He really impressed in the trials, and has come on in leaps and bounds over the off season.

The backs

There is no doubt about the Raiders centre pairing - co-captain Jarrod Croker and Joey Leilua. Croker makes a very welcome return from injury, after missing the final stages of last season with a dislocated knee cap. He's had surgery, so hopefully there's now little chance of a recurrence. Joey Leilua looks fighting fit right now, the way he looked to start his mercurial 2016 season.

Jordan Rapana will spend the opening month or two on the sidelines, recovering from shoulder surgery - after injuring it on the Kiwis tour of England at the end of 2018. He's a huge loss, given his work early in sets, his dummy half running and his ability to break tackles. Michael Oldfield is the most likely fill in, but there are some reports he's still struggling with a groin injury. If he's not fit, that might open up a spot for Bailey Simonsson or Brad Abbey, most likely Simonsson. But both have a lot of work to do to become regular first graders, given what we saw in the trials. It is clear that the depth in the outside backs will be seriously tested with just an injury or two.

Nick Cotric will hold down the other wing spot, despite some speculation he might shift to fullback. But after Cotric told coach Ricky Stuart that wing is his preferred position, that is where he'll start in 2019. He's still only aged 20, but already merits a place in the Blues Origin team, no doubt in my mind.

The spine

The Raiders will benefit from hooker Josh Hodgson lining up in Round 1, rather than sitting on the sidelines as he did in 2018. When he returned to the field last year, he showed why is in the top three hookers, at least, in the world.

It is now clear Jack Wighton will make the shift from fullback to five eighth. While Blake Austin is a very good attacking player at his peak, his defence really let the side down in the past two seasons. Wighton will no doubt strengthen the "D". Ricky Stuart has tried Wighton at five eighth before... and that experiment failed. However, Wighton is now a different player, having built his ball playing in the No. 1. Pairing him with Aidan Sezer is the best option available, in my view.

Sezer will be given the reins to roam and run the show in the halves, allowing Wighton to run. It's going to be be a big year for Sezer, as he's had his ups and downs since joining the Raiders. At his his peak, he's a match winner and hopefully he can have a consistent season. It'll be crucial if the Raiders are to manage games in the clutch situations - and turn around the record of close, last gasp losses. Sam Williams will be waiting in the wings.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad will take over Jack Wighton's fullback spot. He's a young player with just seven NRL games to his name. It's a big gamble for coach Ricky Stuart, putting a young player into such a crucial position. But Nicoll-Klokstad looked solid under the high ball and in attack in the trials. He has a lot of potential - and now has an opportunity. I hope he grabs it with both hands.

Coaching

It is also going to be a big season for Ricky Stuart. He was deservedly the Dally M Coach of the Year in 2016, and he has done an enormous amount to change the culture at the Raiders and to lift professional standards. He does an enormous amount in the community as well, ensuring the team gives back to the city. But the Raiders have now missed the finals in four of the five years he's been in charge. I suspect Ricky Stuart is well aware not many head coaches would survive in the job with a one and five finals record.

The coaching team has had a bit of a shake-up, with assistant coach Mick Crawley choosing to move to the Dragons. He's an important loss. Former Raiders half and assistant coach Andrew McFadden returns to the club, after stints as assistant and head coach at the Warriors. Stuart has also brought in Michael Ennis as a consultant, to assist Josh Hodgson, in particular. Ennis is not the most popular figure with the Green Machine faithful, after he mocked the Viking Clap when the Sharks beat the Raiders during the 2016 finals campaign. It is an astute move from coach Stuart, with Ennis proving to be an insightful analyst post his football career. He might be a grub, but now he's our grub! Last of all, Stuart has brought in a sports psychologist - to help the Raiders win close games. The new faces should offset the loss of Crawley.

Pre-season

The Raiders played two pre season trials this year, coming from behind to win both. The Raiders rested their top line players for the trial against the Parramatta Eels at St Marys - while the Eels fielded a strong outfit. The Eels looked the stronger while their best team was on the field... and they led 20-0 after 31 minutes. But then the Raiders came back, to win 22-20 in the final seconds. The Raiders gave their top players a very solid hit out in the second trial against the Canterbury Bulldogs at Bega - and that was another come from behind, 28-22, win.

The two trials were a departure from recent years, when the Raiders organised just one pre season match - and the top players spent 40 minutes at most on the field. Not only did the Raiders play two trials, Mounties also played a subsequent trial against the Bulldogs, with 17 of the pre-season squad making an appearance. That's a good sign. The wins were also a good sign in my opinion - even though most will say trial result don't matter. This team needs to re-build confidence. The thing that did worry me was that the defence was not as good as I was expecting, given that was the major focus of pre-season training. There were too many metres and too many points conceded.

NRL draw

The Raiders had a relatively "easy" draw in 2018... but looked what happened! In 2019, the draw was rated amongst the tougher draws (equal fifth) by Fox Sports. Time will tell. It will be important, however, that the Raiders get off to a good start, as they face three teams that failed to make the top eight in the opening month of the competition.

Who they play twice: Eels, Cowboys, Tigers, Panthers, Roosters, Storm, Manly, Sharks, Warriors, Sea Eagles
Who they play once: Broncos, Bulldogs, Titans, Knights, Rabbitohs, Dragons
Games against top eight sides: 13
Games against bottom eight sides: 12
Day-by-day: Thursday 1, Friday 4, Saturday 9, Sunday 10
Five-day turnarounds: 2 (Rd 2, Rd 20).
Play at home: Storm, Knights, Eels, Broncos, Rabbitohs, Cowboys, Sharks, Tigers, Roosters, Sea Eagles, Warriors
Play away: Titans, Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Panthers (2), Roosters, Bulldogs, Tigers, Eels, Dragons, Warriors, Storm, Sharks
Television: FTA TV: 5 (against Broncos, Tigers, Sharks, Panthers, Sea Eagles). All matches on STV.

Round 1: Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders, Robina Stadium, Gold Coast, Sunday March 17, 6:30pm (Fox)
Round 2: Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm, Canberra Stadium, Friday March 22, 6:00pm (Fox)
Round 3: Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights, Canberra Stadium, Friday March 29, 6:00pm (Fox)
Round 4: North Queensland Cowboys v Canberra Raiders, Townsville Stadium, Saturday April 6, 4:30pm (Fox)
Round 5: Canberra Raiders v Parramatta Eels, Canberra Stadium, Sunday April 14, 6:10pm (Fox)
Round 6: Canberra Raiders v Brisbane Broncos, Canberra Stadium, Sunday April 21, 4:05pm (Nine)
Round 7: Manly Sea Eagles v Canberra Raiders, Brookvale Oval, Sunday April 28,2:00pm (Fox)
Round 8: Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers, McDonalds Park, Wagga Wagga, Saturday May 4, 3:00pm (Fox)*
Round 9: Sydney Roosters v Canberra Raiders, Lang Park, Sunday May 12, 2:00pm (Fox)
Round 10: Canberra Raiders v South Sydney Rabbitohs, Canberra Stadium, Saturday May 18, 7:30pm (Fox)
Round 11: Canberra Raiders v North Queensland Cowboys, Canberra Stadium, Saturday May 25, 3:00pm (Fox)
Round 12: Canterbury Bulldogs v Canberra Raiders, Sydney Olympic Park, Saturday June 1, 7:35pm (Fox)
Round 13: Wests Tigers v Canberra Raiders, Western Sydney Stadium, Friday June 7, 7:55pm (Nine)
Round 14: Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks, Canberra Stadium, Thursday June 13, 7:50pm (Nine)
Round 15: Parramatta Eels v Canberra Raiders, Darwin Stadium, Saturday June 29, 7:35pm (Fox)
Round 16: BYE
Round 17: St George Dragons v Canberra Raiders, Wollongong Stadium, Sunday July 14, 6:10pm (Fox)
Round 18: Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers, Canberra Stadium, Saturday July 20, 5:30pm (Fox)
Round 19: Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders, Panthers Stadium, Sunday July 28, 4:05pm (Nine)
Round 20: New Zealand Warriors v Canberra Raiders, Mt Smart Stadium, Friday August 2, 8:00pm (Fox)
Round 21: Canberra Raiders v Sydney Roosters, Canberra Stadium, Sunday August 11, 2:00pm (Fox)
Round 22: Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders, Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Saturday August 17, 5:30pm (Fox)
Round 23: Canberra Raiders v Manly Sea Eagles, Canberra Stadium, Sunday August 25, 4:05pm (Nine)
Round 24: Cronulla Sharks v Canberra Raiders, Shark Park, Sunday September 1, 2:00pm (Fox)
Round 25: Canberra Raiders v New Zealand Warriors, Canberra Stadium, Saturday September 7, 3:00pm (Fox)

Home games in bold
* Home fixture played away

The verdict

Predicted finish: Edge of the eight

Overall, 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. On the plus side, the Raiders have some very talented, game breakers. They have a very good, mobile forward pack, but the question is whether they have lost too much size up front. They have a new, untested spine combination, with an inexperienced player likely to be fielded at fullback - albeit a player with a good deal of potential. In addition, with Jordan Rapana likely to be missing for the opening month or two of the season, the stocks in the outside backs are going to be tested. The team has focused on defence during the pre season - and they have also done scenario work at training, while under fatigue, aimed at winning close matches. Both are critical, as they have been the difference between making the finals and not in the past two years. Hopefully, it is top eight finish... and who knows what can happen from there.

RATINGS

RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION RATING: C
FORWARDS RATING: B
BACKS RATING: B-
SPINE RATING: C

Predicted Round 1 team: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Michael Oldfield 6. Jack Wighton 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Sia Soliola 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. John Bateman 14. Siliva Havilii 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Emre Guler 17. Luke Bateman

Top 30 squad: Aidan Sezer, Bailey Simonsson, Brad Abbey, Charnze Nicol-Klokstad, Corey Horsburgh, Dunamis Lui, Elliott Whitehead, JJ Collins, Emre Guler, Hudson Young, Jack Murchie, Jack Wighton, Jarrod Croker, John Bateman, Joey Leilua, Joe Tapine, Josh Hodgson, Josh Papalii, Luke Bateman, Ata Hingano, Michael Oldfield, Nick Cotric, Royce Hunt, Ryan Sutton, Sam Williams, Sebastian Kris, Sia Soliola, Siliva Havili (29 players, one required to be recruited before 30 June)

Development players: Andre Niko, Brendan O'Hagan, Kyle Paterson, Reuben Porter

2019 gains: John Bateman (Wigan Warriors, 2024), JJ Collins (Newcastle Knights, 2020), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (New Zealand Warriors, 2020), Andre Niko (promoted 2019 development player), Kyle Paterson (promoted 2019 development player), Reuben Porter (Sydney Roosters, 2019 development player), Bailey Simonsson (2020), Ryan Sutton (Wigan Warriors, 2020), Hudson Young (promoted 2019)

2019 losses: Blake Austin (Warrington Wolves), Cooper Bambling (mid-season 2018 release), Shannon Boyd (Gold Coast Titans), Craig Garvey (mid-season 2018 release, Sydney Roosters), Kalani Going (mid-season 2018 release), Charlie Gubb (mid-season 2018 release, Widnes Vikings), Stefano Hala (Sydney Roosters), Liam Knight (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Fabien Palatua Kiri (mid-season 2018 release), Junior Paulo (Parramatta Eels), Mikaele Ravalawa (St George Illawarra Dragons), Paul Roache (released)

Re-signed: Luke Bateman (2019), Nick Cotric (2020), Siliva Havili (2020), Dunamis Lui (2021), Jack Murchie (2020), Michael Oldfield (2020), Josh Papalii (2022), Aidan Sezer (2020), Sia Soliola (2020), Joe Tapine (2023)
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