Greatest ever Raiders team - how does the current squad compare?

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Fuifui Bradbrad
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Greatest ever Raiders team - how does the current squad compare?

Post by Fuifui Bradbrad »

I heard an interview with Bellamy prior to the GF, and he was comparing his squads. Basically saying this squad is good, but not as great as 2016 (?) etc.

It got me thinking, I’ve never really compared our squads year on year. For me it’s more generational.

Interested to get people’s thoughts. Journo’s have been saying we’ve had strong / the best forward packs since at least the Tilse / Shillo / TLL era. Where does this pack stack up against others? Even in terms of whole squad, how does this compare?
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Post by greeneyed »

I think the squad as a whole is at its strongest point since 1993-1997, but 1994-95 were obviously stronger than the current squad. The team of 1987 had some of the hall marks of the current team, but in a sense, they "over performed" in that year. The team was very strong from 1988-1991, and at a height in 1989-1990.

So the two strongest squads for mine were 1989-90 and 1994-95 - and the current team has to be rated at a level behind them, until they deliver some premierships. The greatest team for mine was 1989, the next was 1994.

My reasoning? The most objective test is looking at a string of results, the ladder and how far teams went in the finals. These are the strongest periods in the history of the club, in my view - with the years in italics a blip or the start of decline.

1987 Grand Finalists 3rd
1988 Minor Semi Final 3rd
1989 Premiers 4th
1990 Premiers 1st
1991 Grand Finalists 4th

1993 Minor Semi Final 3rd
1994 Premiers 3rd
1995 Preliminary Final 2nd
1996 Qualifying Final 6th
1997 Preliminary Final 3rd - divided competition


2016 Preliminary Final 2nd
2017 and 2018 10th
2019 Grand Finalists 4th
2020 Preliminary Final 5th

There are only two other years where the Raiders finished in the top four: 2000 and 2003. In both years they only made a semi final after finishing fourth.

There was a lot of hype around the Raiders' big pack in the days of Shillington, Learoyd-Lahrs and Tilse, but they didn't stack up in terms of delivering success.
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Re: Greatest ever Raiders team - how does the current squad compare?

Post by BadnMean »

FB Gary Belcher: one of the great fullbacks. Defensively very, very good but a superb attacker. Swift, light on his feet and a very smart player, pioneered the new style of FB play with a link man passing game and ability to unlock defences with smart angles and support. '89
'89: 1 ... Modern: 0

RWG Matthew Wood: scored four tries in three grand finals and had a bit to do to score them. Was a good fit for winger for this team as the '89 Raiders had umpteen ways to make space for the winger between Mal, RIcky and co so you just want a straight up flyer out there. Wood didn't do much more than that and there wasn't much of him. But he was good. Then again, he was no Rapana. Modern
'89: 1 ... Modern: 1
'
RCE Mal Meninga (c): there's hours of Mal on youtube. Much of it looks unfair or soft tries- but Mal was just that much better than everyone else. Big, fast, strong, tough, quick hands, hurt in defence. Kicked goals too. '89
'89: 2 ... Modern: 1

LCE Laurie Daley: There is plenty similar between Wighton and Daley. Tremendous athletes, balls of energy, hit like a truck, all the skills you care to name like long passing, kicking, playmaking. I'll consider Wighton a 5/8, but it's just enjoyable the similarities. For this purpose I'll leave Daley a centre and give '89 the skin. But he'd shade the #6 too.
'89: 3 ... Modern: 1

WG John Ferguson: I've waxed lyrical over Chicka on here before. My favourite player. Everyone in the stadiums favourite player. The mystique. The elusive nature. The lightning acceleration at age 37*. When he picks up and drives back and dumps a player in the GF, jolts the ball out and we score. Fooling his own left boot later on as he scores himself. He's against Cotric at moderns strongest. Cotric played one season at Chicka level and a few very good seasons, he's one of my favourite players. Cotric scored 46 tries in 93 games for the Raiders. Chicka scored 50 in 94, in a lower scoring era. The role of winger has changed so much it's hard to compare eras but both were excellent at what they were asked to do. Chicka turned it on in big games though. Scored in 2 grand finals, beating multiple players to do so. I'll give it to Chicka for consistency and doing it vs the best. He always found ways to contribute and make a difference in the big ones. '89
I think there used to be more highlights around but these'll do.



'89: 4 ... Modern: 1

FE Chris O'Sullivan: a bit of an unsung player. He was always probing, with an intelligent passing game and probing running game. Kicking was actually really good- he was equal share with Stuart for the kicking and they were very effective. He'd lose out to Laurie Daley's rise as the era went on which is my he's not as prominent. But I've got a very good player in O'Sullivan up against a superstar in Jack Wighton, who just is a gamebreaker. Modern.
'89: 4 ... Modern: 2

HB Ricky Stuart: One of the great halfbacks. I honestly put him up above Johns, but I could be argued to a draw. Streets ahead of any other half in his era. Just absolutely complete, not the quickest after his groins/hammies but always the smartest and would just pass players into holes 30m away. Let alone kick everyone into oblivion. Sorry George. '89
'89: 5 ... Modern: 2

PR Brent Todd: Strong player. But would be superceded by even tougher model kiwis soon in Pongia and Lomax. I'm considering Tarps where he played his great year last year and where I think he should continue so it's Tarps doing things Todd could only dream of for the win. Modern.
'89: 5 ... Modern: 3

HK Steve Walters: oof. Tough one. An atg hooker with all the skills of his day- the well timed rakeback as a gamechanger vs Hodgos steal (both very similar skills in that they involved picking a weak target well ahead of time, then waiting for the right moment, then executing flawlessy or risk the penalty/turnover). Walters was the stronger runner and stronger defender, he was the best in the business at in in his day. Hodgo has a more guile in his play and passing. Arguably Walters was the quicker, crisper delivery though. Hodgo can kick. Really hard- if I had to pick one in a combined team I'd pick Walters for the defence and go forward, quick delivery. But Hodgo dragged an ordinary team up by the bootstraps and delivers creativity (not needed with Daley and Stuart though). My first draw. '89 + Modern
'89: 6 ... Modern: 4

PR Glenn Lazarus: In the past I've given this to Lazo. As recently as last year/start of this I did just that. Lazo was an '80 minute prop. Lazo could slip an offload. Lazo took a backward step to nobody. Lazo hurt when he hit people. Lazo was a winner. But Papa is delivering the modern equivalent with icing on the cake. Some of those tries to win games, big games we have no right to ever expect from a prop. But we've almost come to. That is absurd. Papa is absurd. That ankle tap! In my greatest team they'd be prop 1 and 2. I might be a year early, but I'm choosing Papa. Not sure I'm right but I can't sit on every hard decision. Modern.
'89: 6 ... Modern: 5

SR Dean Lance: Dean was a great captain and inspirational defender. Raiders owe him a lot. A little bit limited as a player overall in this company though. Not sure who I'm supposed to put him against though. 1.5 years of JB? Doesn't quite outweigh a Lance actually, Lance would have had no trouble putting Kikau on his ass. Ah how about Sia. That's tough- these two would smash hell out of each other for 80 mins, then shake hands job well done. Sia makes more yards, but I have a feeling Lance makes less errors. Sia certainly a bit more dynamic. I might be lynched but I'll go SIa. Draw is probably fairer though. Modern with guilt and doubts.
'89: 6 ... Modern: 6

SR Gary Coyne: Good player, plenty of Origins attest to that. Definition of tough workhorse. Elliot does all that with extra sprinkles on top though. Modern.
'89: 6 ... Modern: 7

LK Bradley Clyde: don't even care who the other lock is because no human has ever been a better lock than Bradley Clyde. Watch him go- the biggest motor, the smoothest run, offloads, passes, tackles don't look fun to wear, makes tough yards, makes breaks, you only need ruck outs from modern wingers because you no longer have a Bradley Clyde to defy physics and take hit ups 1, 2 and 3 of each set. '89
'89: 7 ... Modern: 7

And there we come to the things that make a difference when splitting really, really good teams...

For the bench I've just taken a look at '89/1990 benches in finals vs 2019/2020 benches in finals.

Bench Kevin Walters vs Havilii... '89 Kevvie was a pretty bloody handy player in his day. Probably a level above Havilii.

Bench Steve Jackson vs Lui... '89 Lui appears on the bench in both Raiders recent final campaigns but Steve Jackson scored THAT try.

Bench Paul Martin vs Young/Simonsen... '89 + modern. Paul Martin had a good career. He was a big, strong, quick winger who would suit the modern style and have a wing spot in 2021 all sewn up if he was born again. He's dine more than Simonsen has, but I think Young might be a better play when all is said and done. Thing is, he hasn't said much yet... 89' + modern

Coach Tim Sheens: was a truly innovative coach at the peak of his powers here. We had set moves that opened teams up. He was bold in using modern defensive strategies that suited his team. He kept a massive stack of egos in check and happy. He renewed the team each year ruthlessly and effectively. He shades RIcky here. '89

By the time we get through bench (and the '89/'90 benches also had the likes of Phil Carey and Dave Barnhill with 9 origins waiting in the wings) and coach '89 shades it.

So just on the starting team it's 7 all. That's surprising. Recency bias? Also the fact the modern game is more dynamic so modern forwards have more attacking highlights? Our current pack is certainly a real doozy though.

A Lazo draw or a Lance draw/win would tip this the way of '89. But '89 was a scrappy, plucky squad who just did the business on the big day. 2019 was a scrappy, plucky squad who got a raw deal on the big day, so maybe close is fair. And in '89, Sheens pulled all the right strings and Wok Ryan pulled a wrong one (no Blocker and Siro for extra time making the yards for Fg attempts was an absolute blessing). There's also the Big Mal factor. He's probably worth more than 1 skin. That's why 1 team is a GF legend and one a hard luck story.

From '89/'90 and '2016-2020 almost on par. I've probably cast a wider net allowing 2016 era Sia and Rapana into my thoughts. So '94 would shade both I'd say.
Last edited by BadnMean on December 20, 2020, 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Greatest ever Raiders team - how does the current squad compare?

Post by Botman »

The 1994 Raiders were IMO the best RL team ever assembled.
Hard to beat them. No one can.

The pack was it's "weakness" and it included the best lock forward of all time, the best hooker of all time, two of the hardest **** ***** to ever grace a footy field (Lomax and Pongia), a modern day edge forward ahead of his time (Furner) and one of the most underrated footballers of his time (Croker)

We're going to have to have some hard dicussions in 10 years time about our "greatest 17 of all time" but it's very likely going to be dominated by that 1993-95 sqaud.
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GO;
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greeneyed
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Re: Greatest ever Raiders team - how does the current squad compare?

Post by greeneyed »

@BadnMean... you can’t award two prop spots to the current team... and effectively leaving Glenn Lazarus out. You can’t. Well, you can... but you can’t!

And you can’t call a draw at hooker. Steve Walters every single time our greatest ever hooker by a good margin. He’s only been exceeded in the history of the game by Cameron Smith.

Dean Lance and Gary Coyne are underestimated in those comparisons too. I’d personally go the other way.

I do think there’s some recency bias there... plus the margins for some players from 89 are pretty wide. But then the current player pros can’t be fairly judged by history either... as their careers are not over.

1989 quite clearly in front of the current team in my view... not least of all because the current team need to win a couple of premierships to be in the same ball park.

Tim Sheens, btw, coached the Raiders to three premierships. There’s no “shading” involved, as much as I like Ricky.
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Re: Greatest ever Raiders team - how does the current squad compare?

Post by Seiffert82 »

2019 vs 1989
1. C. Nicoll-Klokstad vs Gary Belcher
Badge by a fair margin. In 1989 he was outstanding and in 1990 he went on to be one of the best 3 players in the game that season.
2. Nick Cotric vs Matthew Wood
Wood was a good winger, but Cotric would have been unstoppable outside Meninga.
3. Jarrod Croker vs Mal Meninga
Love Toots, but yeah.
4. Joseph Leilua vs Laurie Daley
Leilua at his best would give Daley a fair run for his money, but Daley will always be a far superior defender and player all-round. One of the greats of the modern era.
5. Jordan Rapana vs John Ferguson
This was tough - Chicka was a fave, but Rapana at his best was powerful, athletic and a better defender on the wing.
6. Jack Wighton vs Chris O'Sullivan
Sully is the most under-rated Raider of all time IMO, but Wighton is a class above and has the ability to carry a team on the biggest stage.
7. Aidan Sezer vs Ricky Stuart
Stuart was an absolute genius on the park. Criminally under-rated as one of the all time great halfbacks. Had it all.
8. Josh Papalii vs Brent Todd
Papalii is an absolute beast. Can single-handedly change a game and does it regularly on the big stage. Todd was solid, but not in the same class.
9. Josh Hodgson vs Steve Walters
Hodgo is in the conversation as one of the best hookers in the comp, but Walters at his best was immense. Like Smith, the gap between Walters' best and worst games was miniscule. Boxhead didn't have the same skillset as Hodgo, but back when scrums and rucks were competitive, Walters was the best in the game.
10. Sia Soliola vs Glenn Lazarus
Lazarus is one of the greatest front rowers of all time. This isn't even close.
11. John Bateman vs Dean Lance
Tough one. Bateman had one great season and Lance was solid his entire career. Could have gone either way. Bateman had that x factor with the ball which gets him the nod, but Deano was one of the best defenders of all-time.
12. Elliott Whitehead vs Gary Coyne
Coyne was a wonderful second rower, but Whitehead has him covered for ball skills, utility value and he just makes the players around him better.
13. Joseph Tapine vs Bradley Clyde
Bit like Leilua vs Daley. Clyde is one of the all-time greats. If they kept the same sort of stats when Clyde played, some of his workrate numbers would have smashed the record books. Taps at his best is a beast though.

Closer than I thought. A couple of line-ball decisions have gone to the 2019 guys (Chicka and Lance unlucky), but I have '89 just pipping '19 by a 7-6 skins count.

We really should have won the 2019 grand final. Such a shame.
Last edited by Seiffert82 on December 21, 2020, 12:49 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Greatest ever Raiders team - how does the current squad compare?

Post by BadnMean »

greeneyed wrote: December 20, 2020, 8:57 pm @BadnMean... you can’t award two prop spots to the current team... and effectively leaving Glenn Lazarus out. You can’t. Well, you can... but you can’t!

And you can’t call a draw at hooker. Steve Walters every single time our greatest ever hooker by a good margin. He’s only been exceeded in the history of the game by Cameron Smith.

Dean Lance and Gary Coyne are underestimated in those comparisons too. I’d personally go the other way.

I do think there’s some recency bias there... plus the margins for some players from 89 are pretty wide. But then the current player pros can’t be fairly judged by history either... as their careers are not over.

1989 quite clearly in front of the current team in my view... not least of all because the current team need to win a couple of premierships to be in the same ball park.

Tim Sheens, btw, coached the Raiders to three premierships. There’s no “shading” involved, as much as I like Ricky.
'm not picking a combined team, or of course Lazo would be in. I was trying for more a skins palyer vs player match up style and decided instead of avoiding the tough calls I'd try to match up like for like, best vs best. I should have explained my method better. Now I now how @Matt feels.

Walters... yeah maybe. But Hodgo. If Hodgo comes back from two crook knees and leads us to the promised land, he's the greatest. But yeah, it's hard to go past Walters.

You can't pick Coyne over Whitehead. I just think he does all Coyne could and more. Just as rugged in defence, both had nice pass for a 2nd rower but Elliot just bit cleverer imo- or maybe a proper footy player just stands out more these days. Elliot has the killer dummy and a better running game... the kicking. Both could pull off a charge down from memory but Elliot is on every loose ball like a vacuum cleaner. Can't shift me on that one.

I tried deliberately to avoid constantly falling back on "well they won 2 and player x didn't" this time and just do a spot by spot assessment. Otherwise how much do I weigh the 2x premierships vs the other players talents? How much do they count for? And how much does each player get value for them? Was Coyne as vital a cog as any or do they really owe the difference between also rans and legends to Mal, Ricky and Badge and the rest were along for the ride? So I tried, for the purpose of this one, to ignore that factor as much as I could.
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Re: Greatest ever Raiders team - how does the current squad compare?

Post by Ilanraiders »

Who would be the greatest raider of all time?? Unsure if there is another thread but IMO it would be Mal Meninga👍
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Re: Greatest ever Raiders team - how does the current squad compare?

Post by Whitty »

BadnMean wrote: December 20, 2020, 6:47 pm

LK Bradley Clyde: don't even care who the other lock is because no human has ever been a better lock than Bradley Clyde. Watch him go- the biggest motor, the smoothest run, offloads, passes, tackles don't look fun to wear, makes tough yards, makes breaks, you only need ruck outs from modern wingers because you no longer have a Bradley Clyde to defy physics and take hit ups 1, 2 and 3 of each set. '89
'89: 7 ... Modern: 7

This is so true. I've been trying to get my 25 year old son to sit and watch an old game with Clyde in it to try and explain the machine that he was. They should have cast him in the Terminator movies, that scene where dude just remelts himself and starts running after Arnie and the kid always reminds me of Clyde, just unstoppable. Best lock in the old school sense of the word I've ever seen. Would crush it in any era regardless.
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Re: Greatest ever Raiders team - how does the current squad compare?

Post by Fuifui Bradbrad »

This might be an inspiration for an off season voting tournament... although there’s a general consensus which team will win out, we have 38 squads to choose from
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Re: Greatest ever Raiders team - how does the current squad compare?

Post by Sid »

Fuifui Bradbrad wrote:I heard an interview with Bellamy prior to the GF, and he was comparing his squads. Basically saying this squad is good, but not as great as 2016 (?) etc.

It got me thinking, I’ve never really compared our squads year on year. For me it’s more generational.

Interested to get people’s thoughts. Journo’s have been saying we’ve had strong / the best forward packs since at least the Tilse / Shillo / TLL era. Where does this pack stack up against others? Even in terms of whole squad, how does this compare?
I think the biggest difference between 2016 and the squad now on paper is that current Wighton >>>> Austin @ 6. He was never as good after 2015.

The biggest difference off paper is the differences between attack and defence





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Re: Greatest ever Raiders team - how does the current squad compare?

Post by -TW- »

Once teams worked out his dummy he wasn't as effective, plus his injuries

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