What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Botman »

Our most impactful forward is already out wide where he's impactful. Moving JB from back row to centre is literally moving him him 3-4 metres wider. His impact will be somewhat limited but there is a natural trade off, he doesnt get to run and target lazy edge forwards and halves, instead he gets centres... how many centres you want to back 1 on 1 to tackle John Bateman close to the line?
I cant think of many.

They're different sorts of attacking threats and they'd do it different ways, but Bateman would be fine in attack at centre compared to Croker, Scott or Beej, in fact he'd be pretty impactful i would guess... defensively, dealing with a bit more speed and footwork? Maybe a problem, but then Croker is according to some the worst defensive player to ever live, Beej has problems routinely in defence and we dont yet know how Scott is going to fit in here defensively. So again, not sure it's a huge problem

But then, how often do you expect to need to go to this? That's what i dont know. If it's one every 2 games, i dont like it so much, if im thinking i might need to do this for 15 minutes 1 in 4 games, and maybe for a full half or 60 minutes 1 in 6 games... OK, that's a different conversation.

We always have a guy on our bench capable of playing back row. And we have a ton of redundancy there with Tapine, who would START as a backrower at most clubs. I dont share your concerns there. I dont think moving forwards around is some kind of major issue. Most of the tweeners spend time in both spots. Tapine certainly qualifies there.

Id love to know just how common the HIA is. Im sure the clubs have this info... but that would inform my decision making considerably. Do you end up losing an outside back on average once every 2 games? Even if it's just for 15 minutes... or is it actually more like once every 3-4 games? or 5-6 games? I dont know.

If it's 1 in 2, you absolutely have to cover for that... if it's 5-6, i would take my chances.
Last edited by Botman on January 13, 2020, 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Matt »

Botman wrote:
January 13, 2020, 11:53 am
afgtnk wrote:
January 9, 2020, 2:45 pm
I don't see how you can get away with not having a cover for the five backs on the bench with the current concussion rules. All it takes is one small knock and your entire game takes a hit accomodating a second rower in your backline. Same goes for hooker/halves (more so hooker, given the greater physical impact they're exposed to).

Not worth the risk IMO - you'd like to think that in this day and age, two middle forwards on the bench can bust out enough minutes between them to give the starters enough of a break. The days of fat Junior Paulo pumping out 30 minutes before needing an oxygen mask are nigh.
yeah thats an interesting situation re: the outside backs'
I would say it depends on the make up of your team.... Like the Raiders could run 4 forwards and i'd be fairly confident that we could cover any of the back positions because John Bateman offers some pretty good utility as a guy who can probably handle centre for a game if needed

If you lost CNK, you could move Simo or Cotric to the back, shift Croker to the wing and slot Bateman at centre.
If you lost a centre, it's a straight swap for JB
If you lost a winger, its JB to centre, Croker to that wing.
If you lost a half, you probably just put JB in the halves and tell him to defend his **** off and float, and have the remaining half play both sides

Now none of those are ideal and certainly we're a worse team in each of those scenarios than if we just had Simo/Scott/Bj (how ever it shakes out) on the bench. So then it becomes a question about your risk appetite and the prevalence of outside backs being concussed/injured and how you feel about those contingencies

I'd personally be OK with going to with the 4 forwards (or rather 3, with Havilii being the 4th) but i think it's reasonable if people (and coaches) feel that's outside their risk appetite.
Thats where you look at the other forwards available to you too.
We are lucky in that we have Tapine, Papa and Sia, who can play middle or edge, which allows Smelly or Bateo to shift wider.
All our middles can play 40mins. Most can play 50. There are a few who can go 60+.

In our case, I think the 'safest approach' is to go utility back and Havili on the bench. All injury concerns are covered with these 2 players. There is no reason why either 1 of them cant play the 20-25mins of our 3rd forward bench player (was a Guler/ Sutton most of the yr). BUT... Its a case of who do you leave out? And TBH, isnt that a great situation to have!?!?!

The common coach approach will be to look at utility back vs hooker cover. Some will pick a back, others a hooker. However, 3 forwards will likely remain the norm.

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Botman »

Sia cant play on the edge anymore. But otherwise agreed.

I favour Havilii over a utility back myself, but again, i can see the value in what people are saying re: someone like Simo/Scott/Beej to give that 1-5 coverage
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Matt »

Botman wrote:
January 13, 2020, 1:25 pm
Our most impactful forward is already out wide where he's impactful. Moving JB from back row to centre is literally moving him him 3-4 metres wider. His impact will be somewhat limited but there is a natural trade off, he doesnt get to run and target lazy edge forwards and halves, instead he gets centres... how many centres you want to back 1 on 1 to tackle John Bateman close to the line?
I cant think of many.

They're different sorts of attacking threats and they'd do it different ways, but Bateman would be fine in attack at centre compared to Croker, Scott or Beej, in fact he'd be pretty impactful i would guess... defensively, dealing with a bit more speed and footwork? Maybe a problem, but then Croker is according to some the worst defensive player to ever live, Beej has problems routinely in defence and we dont yet know how Scott is going to fit in here defensively. So again, not sure it's a huge problem

But then, how often do you expect to need to go to this? That's what i dont know. If it's one every 2 games, i dont like it so much, if im thinking i might need to do this for 15 minutes 1 in 4 games, and maybe for a full half or 60 minutes 1 in 6 games... OK, that's a different conversation.

We always have a guy on our bench capable of playing back row. And we have a ton of redundancy there with Tapine, who would START as a backrower at most clubs. I dont share your concerns there. I dont think moving forwards around is some kind of major issue. Most of the tweeners spend time in both spots. Tapine certainly qualifies there.

Id love to know just how common the HIA is. Im sure the clubs have this info... but that would inform my decision making considerably. Do you end up losing an outside back on average once every 2 games? Even if it's just for 15 minutes... or is it actually more like once every 3-4 games? or 5-6 games? I dont know.

If it's 1 in 2, you absolutely have to cover for that... if it's 5-6, i would take my chances.
Simmonson played 22 games or something last yr. Now half of those are probably because BJ was injured, and 1 was highlighted by a firework. I know the 1st and last games were because Rapa was injured and CNK rested. So lets say 6-8 were off the bench for injury/ HIA. Thats 1 in 3 or 4. IMO, thats enough for it to be an issue worth serious consideration.

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by zim »

I don't think Papa is going to end up on the edge either. That shipped has sailed with ever increasing buoyancy.
Tapine if it was for any significant period. Young if he's on the bench. Then Lui/Sutton et al in an absolute pinch.

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Botman »

Matt wrote:
January 13, 2020, 1:39 pm
So lets say 6-8 were off the bench for injury/ HIA. Thats 1 in 3 or 4. IMO, thats enough for it to be an issue worth serious consideration.
He came on in games late where there were no injuries at all, and it was just a sort of last ditch effort to make something happen. I reckon he got used 4, maybe 5 times this year off the bench due to injury. But that's just a guess, happy if someone wants to tell me differently

Even at 1 in 5 or 6 games is worth serious consideration about what you do, but again, it's your risk appetite. Are you comfortable with the contingencies you have in place, where you can gut out a win with 16 men if say CNK gets knocked out in the first minute of play? And how do you weigh those contingencies against it's probability

Because the trouble with that is as has already been mentioned, if you're trying to have silver bullets for everything, you're going to end up with only 2 legitimate forwards off your bench and running out Havilii and a back... and how does that impact the forwards? Is that sustainable? What if you lose some forwards to HIA/Injury which is almost certainly far more likely.

I just think as a team, you just take your best team and you do the best you can if injuries/hia occur in game. I think this Raiders team in particular, with Havilii on the bench and the versatility JB, Wighton, Tapine and Whitehead give us athletically... i think we can cover most positions adequately enough that we dont need a specialist back*


* Different sort of conversation entirely, but im also far from convinced it's Havilii over Simmo anyways as our best utility. I think Simo has a lot of potential in that #14 role if it was expanded a little to allow him to get into hooker a little bit and run at people... he wont bulldoze blokes for tries the way Havilii does in the red zone, but he could create line breaks and opportunities with direct running the way Rapana did in his prime
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Beejay »

Botman wrote:
January 13, 2020, 1:25 pm
Our most impactful forward is already out wide where he's impactful. Moving JB from back row to centre is literally moving him him 3-4 metres wider. His impact will be somewhat limited but there is a natural trade off, he doesnt get to run and target lazy edge forwards and halves, instead he gets centres... how many centres you want to back 1 on 1 to tackle John Bateman close to the line?
I cant think of many.

They're different sorts of attacking threats and they'd do it different ways, but Bateman would be fine in attack at centre compared to Croker, Scott or Beej, in fact he'd be pretty impactful i would guess... defensively, dealing with a bit more speed and footwork? Maybe a problem, but then Croker is according to some the worst defensive player to ever live, Beej has problems routinely in defence and we dont yet know how Scott is going to fit in here defensively. So again, not sure it's a huge problem

But then, how often do you expect to need to go to this? That's what i dont know. If it's one every 2 games, i dont like it so much, if im thinking i might need to do this for 15 minutes 1 in 4 games, and maybe for a full half or 60 minutes 1 in 6 games... OK, that's a different conversation.

We always have a guy on our bench capable of playing back row. And we have a ton of redundancy there with Tapine, who would START as a backrower at most clubs. I dont share your concerns there. I dont think moving forwards around is some kind of major issue. Most of the tweeners spend time in both spots. Tapine certainly qualifies there.

Id love to know just how common the HIA is. Im sure the clubs have this info... but that would inform my decision making considerably. Do you end up losing an outside back on average once every 2 games? Even if it's just for 15 minutes... or is it actually more like once every 3-4 games? or 5-6 games? I dont know.

If it's 1 in 2, you absolutely have to cover for that... if it's 5-6, i would take my chances.
The other way of looking at it, is do you really need 4 forwards on the bench?

Teams only really substitute their middle forwards now, and Papalli and Tapine can both play about 60min without an issue.
So if the other front rower plays 40min, you are looking at a total of 80 min game time to cover in best case scenario.

You can stagger your rotation and cover that with 2 players. Which we did do last year.
The third forward plays 0 - 40min depending if other things occur.

Why the need for a 4th ?

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Botman »

Beejay wrote:
January 13, 2020, 2:09 pm
The other way of looking at it, is do you really need 4 forwards on the bench?

Teams only really substitute their middle forwards now, and Papalli and Tapine can both play about 60min without an issue.
So if the other front rower plays 40min, you are looking at a total of 80 min game time to cover in best case scenario.

You can stagger your rotation and cover that with 2 players. Which we did do last year.
The third forward plays 0 - 40min depending if other things occur.

Why the need for a 4th ?
Yep, fair counter. And to add to it, i think it's probably a matter of time before we're going towards 6 interchanges (especially when the HIA is used so liberally for forwards who are close to needing their spell, it really wont change much) so getting different options with that 4th bench spot and getting more minutes into the forwards is probably the way forward.

You're getting full games out of Whitehead and JB in the back row. So they're accounted for, with Tapine being the contingency there.

I think ideally you want Papa playing 50 minutes in regular season games. You want him fresh for the finals, not running on fumes. Sia probably cant give you more than 40 good ones these days, unless he's woken up feeling particularly chipper, or again its finals footy where guys like him always seem to find a little extra in the tank... so then you're looking at spliting rougly 70 minutes between 3 players... Which is a little overkill.
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Matt »

Botman wrote:
January 13, 2020, 2:09 pm
Matt wrote:
January 13, 2020, 1:39 pm
So lets say 6-8 were off the bench for injury/ HIA. Thats 1 in 3 or 4. IMO, thats enough for it to be an issue worth serious consideration.
He came on in games late where there were no injuries at all, and it was just a sort of last ditch effort to make something happen. I reckon he got used 4, maybe 5 times this year off the bench due to injury. But that's just a guess, happy if someone wants to tell me differently

Even at 1 in 5 or 6 games is worth serious consideration about what you do, but again, it's your risk appetite. Are you comfortable with the contingencies you have in place, where you can gut out a win with 16 men if say CNK gets knocked out in the first minute of play? And how do you weigh those contingencies against it's probability

Because the trouble with that is as has already been mentioned, if you're trying to have silver bullets for everything, you're going to end up with only 2 legitimate forwards off your bench and running out Havilii and a back... and how does that impact the forwards? Is that sustainable? What if you lose some forwards to HIA/Injury which is almost certainly far more likely.

I just think as a team, you just take your best team and you do the best you can if injuries/hia occur in game. I think this Raiders team in particular, with Havilii on the bench and the versatility JB, Wighton, Tapine and Whitehead give us athletically... i think we can cover most positions adequately enough that we dont need a specialist back*


* Different sort of conversation entirely, but im also far from convinced it's Havilii over Simmo anyways as our best utility. I think Simo has a lot of potential in that #14 role if it was expanded a little to allow him to get into hooker a little bit and run at people... he wont bulldoze blokes for tries the way Havilii does in the red zone, but he could create line breaks and opportunities with direct running the way Rapana did in his prime
Not sure the reason for all of these, but here are his weird min games off the bench:
Rd9 - 29 mins vs Chooks
Rd 22 - 13 mins vs Storm (was this the Cotric hooked game?)
Rd 23 - 17 mins vs Manly
WK 1 finals - 80mins* vs Storm (BJ firework in the eye. HOWEVER... BJ came on for Cotric who only lasted 19mins)
Wk 3 finals - 15 mins vs Bunnies (came on to replace BJ - leg injury?)
GF - 11mins vs Chooks (came on for CNK who was gassed/ cramping)

So, I have 2 unexplained (probably injury/ HIA), 2 definitely injury related, 1 fresh legs, and 1 like for like.

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Seiffert82 »

As far as injuries go, from what I've seen over the last decade or so, the biggest impact on a team's performance is losing a hooker or winger when you don't have adequate coverage on the bench. This extends to losing a fullback as generally one of the wingers has to drop back to cover that role.

When you lose a winger (or fullback) it usually requires at least a couple of positional changes and it really impacts on your cohesion in defence. You can obviously manage things OK when you have the ball, but if you are playing against a competent set of halves, they will exploit that weakness every time.

Losing a hooker obviously impacts your attack in a big way. We've all seen how slick we look when Hodgo is off and there is no plan B. Horrid.

For that reason I like naming Havili as I think he adequately covers a middle role as well as dummy half, which gives you space to carry a winger on the bench - especially one like Oldfield who can also cover centre.

Dunno what Stuart will do with Leilua and Scott. If Scott goes OK on the wing (wouldn't have a clue if he does) I'd be really tempted to name him at 14 if Leilua is genuinely staying.

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by BadnMean »

Botman wrote:
January 13, 2020, 1:25 pm
Our most impactful forward is already out wide where he's impactful. Moving JB from back row to centre is literally moving him him 3-4 metres wider. His impact will be somewhat limited but there is a natural trade off, he doesnt get to run and target lazy edge forwards and halves, instead he gets centres... how many centres you want to back 1 on 1 to tackle John Bateman close to the line?
I cant think of many.

They're different sorts of attacking threats and they'd do it different ways, but Bateman would be fine in attack at centre compared to Croker, Scott or Beej, in fact he'd be pretty impactful i would guess... defensively, dealing with a bit more speed and footwork? Maybe a problem, but then Croker is according to some the worst defensive player to ever live, Beej has problems routinely in defence and we dont yet know how Scott is going to fit in here defensively. So again, not sure it's a huge problem

But then, how often do you expect to need to go to this? That's what i dont know. If it's one every 2 games, i dont like it so much, if im thinking i might need to do this for 15 minutes 1 in 4 games, and maybe for a full half or 60 minutes 1 in 6 games... OK, that's a different conversation.

We always have a guy on our bench capable of playing back row. And we have a ton of redundancy there with Tapine, who would START as a backrower at most clubs. I dont share your concerns there. I dont think moving forwards around is some kind of major issue. Most of the tweeners spend time in both spots. Tapine certainly qualifies there.

Id love to know just how common the HIA is. Im sure the clubs have this info... but that would inform my decision making considerably. Do you end up losing an outside back on average once every 2 games? Even if it's just for 15 minutes... or is it actually more like once every 3-4 games? or 5-6 games? I dont know.

If it's 1 in 2, you absolutely have to cover for that... if it's 5-6, i would take my chances.
There is a pretty big difference between centre and second row involvement. But putting that aside.

I'd prefer not to reduce a strength to cover a weakness. When we can use our bench to cover the weakness completely, getting better value/cover out of our bench since the 4th spot is rarely used meaningfully otherwise.

Ricky seemed to come to the same conclusion last year and it was, imo, an instrumental factor more than once in our late season and finals run.

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Botman »

There is a difference, but i dont think JB lacks the athletic ability to defend at centre, nor do i think his game style would render him useless with ball in hand as a centre in attack
He's play for his country at centre. Marking up against Australia and more than held his own. For me... for half a game, or 70% of a game or whatever, in an emergency scenario, JB is a guy you can shove in at centre, and forget about him knowing he'll do his job.

As for reducing a strenght to cover a weakness.. in the case of injuries, i favour putting the best and most competent 13 on the park we can muster. I dont think playing an inferior or less useful footballer just in case is the way to go. I think you put systems in place and trust that your coach and your players can adapt to the situation when they need to. Otherwise why stop here? Why not carry a hooker, half, back and forward on the bench? Just in case, right?
We've already seen in this thread the slide to that, with the idea of playing both Havilii and Simo off the bench.

And maybe the game gets there one day, but we aint there yet, you play a season with only 2 legitimate forwards on the bench you're going to get bullied around far too often.

Id be curious to know which games you think Simo changed as a bench back?
The Souths game was probably the only one that came to mind, but he didnt come on as a sub mid game, he started. And the circumstances around that are unlikely to be seen again (you'd hope!)... I think Havilii impacted games more than Simo did as a bench player.
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by BadnMean »

Botman wrote:
January 13, 2020, 6:46 pm
There is a difference, but i dont think JB lacks the athletic ability to defend at centre, nor do i think his game style would render him useless with ball in hand as a centre in attack
He's play for his country at centre. Marking up against Australia and more than held his own. For me... for half a game, or 70% of a game or whatever, in an emergency scenario, JB is a guy you can shove in at centre, and forget about him knowing he'll do his job.

As for reducing a strenght to cover a weakness.. in the case of injuries, i favour putting the best and most competent 13 on the park we can muster. I dont think playing an inferior or less useful footballer just in case is the way to go. I think you put systems in place and trust that your coach and your players can adapt to the situation when they need to. Otherwise why stop here? Why not carry a hooker, half, back and forward on the bench? Just in case, right?
We've already seen in this thread the slide to that, with the idea of playing both Havilii and Simo off the bench.

And maybe the game gets there one day, but we aint there yet, you play a season with only 2 legitimate forwards on the bench you're going to get bullied around far too often.

Id be curious to know which games you think Simo changed as a bench back?
The Souths game was probably the only one that came to mind, but he didnt come on as a sub mid game, he started. And the circumstances around that are unlikely to be seen again (you'd hope!)... I think Havilii impacted games more than Simo did as a bench player.
Simo influenced round 22 v Melb
Week 1 Semi and
Week 3 Semi

Without any of which we don't even make the GF.
What more evidence do you need?
Otherwise why stop here? Why not carry a hooker, half, back and forward on the bench? Just in case, right?
That's not an idea anyone has even put. But it is a brilliant deconstruction of an argument no one has made. Reductio ad absurdum, straw man , whatever, but it's you vs you.

Lastly, Havilii is a genuine bench forward. It's literally his job description. I like him. If he plays, great. If Ricky picks a different forward, fine by me. We can and did play many, many games without him on the scene. He's not essential to this unless you want to rest Hodgo some weeks. He's a role player. If he does play, I rate him to do a job. Good player.

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Raiders_Pat »

I'm picking my strongest possible lineup on the assumption that Leilua won't be here by kick off.
1. Nicoll-Klokstad
2. Cotric
3. Croker
4. Scott
5. Simonsson
6. Wighton
7. G. Williams
8. Papalii
9. Hodgson
10. Horsburgh
11. Tapine
12. Whitehead
13. Bateman

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

Wouldn't mind seeing maybe Kris or Smith-Shields getting a run in that utility spot if we're looking at carrying one back on the interchange. I feel that's more likely what we'll wind up seeing in the lineup this season.

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Botman »

BadnMean wrote:
January 13, 2020, 8:19 pm

Simo influenced round 22 v Melb
Week 1 Semi and
Week 3 Semi

Without any of which we don't even make the GF.
What more evidence do you need?

Round 22 v Melbourne: Genuine question... what did he do that was so influential? I couldnt remember him impacting that game, so i did a bit of a search, he played 13 minutes, made 4 runs for 28 metres, didnt make any offloads, line breaks, didnt receive a single POTY vote on the GH... in fact didnt make a tackle. Just watched the highlights too and literally nothing. I mean this is fairly low level research but im not seeing anything to suggest he was a factor. Happy to be reminded of an amazing play that he was involved in. I honestly dont remember it.

Semi 1 - Again, he started the game, under those circumstances, the NRL had given us permission to use someone outside of our 17 IIRC to replace BJ if we wanted. So even if we didnt have Simmo in the team, we'd have been able to cope with that VERY unusually and unlikely to be repeated situation. His impact wasnt as a bench player, it was as a starter.

Semi 3 - Again, no memory of any meaningful play he made. 15 minutes, 4 runs 31 metres, no offloads line breaks or anything like that. Made his one and only tackle, again no POTY points and invisible on the highlights package. Happy for you to let me know if there is something i'm not remembering

His impact as a bench utility is limited and he did not impact games from that role very often. As a winger, he's fantastic, i think he should be replacing Rapana and figure it out at centre between beej and scott. Im not playing either of those guys on the wing ahead of him. And he impacts games as a starting winger... as a bench utility... there just isnt much impact there IMO.
BadnMean wrote:
January 13, 2020, 8:19 pm

That's not an idea anyone has even put. But it is a brilliant deconstruction of an argument no one has made. Reductio ad absurdum, straw man , whatever, but it's you vs you.

Lastly, Havilii is a genuine bench forward. It's literally his job description. I like him. If he plays, great. If Ricky picks a different forward, fine by me. We can and did play many, many games without him on the scene. He's not essential to this unless you want to rest Hodgo some weeks. He's a role player. If he does play, I rate him to do a job. Good player.
We've already had posts here in this thread suggesting Havilii and Simmo for the same reason you've mentioned, this idea that Havilii is a genuine bench forward. So we're already on that slide.
Im not attacking you or anything, you're welcome to your own opinion, but my opinion is Havilii offers more consistent and impactful play from the #14 spot than Simo.
CREATE PROCEDURE BotMan_Post AS
SELECT * FROM Previous_Post
EXEC quote_post
WHERE UserName = 'Aknalkfgnaa' OR 'Yeah Raiders' OR 'Billy B'
EXEC RAND(good_grief; cheak_notes; uh82cit;)

GO;

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greeneyed
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What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by greeneyed »

The Greenhouse has traditionally run a series of polls in the off season to determine the fans' view of the strongest possible top 17... irrespective of injuries. However, we started doing something a little different last year - assessing "The contenders" for each position and inviting you to have your say... and to post your strongest possible team.

Now we are in the New Year, and the Raiders' top 30 is close to final, we'll kick off a new series of articles... "Locks and contenders". Why the change in title? Any team that makes the Grand Final has quite a few positions locked down.

The team lists that you post in this thread will be collated into a consensus view on the Canberra Raiders strongest possible 2020 line up.

Remember, when posting your top 17 squad - it should be irrespective of injuries. Think of it this way: it is the team you want firing in the finals!

Locks and contenders

Props

Image

Josh Papalii is the No. 1 "lock" in the Canberra Raiders' 2020 team. No one is more certain of his position than "Papa" - as starting prop. However, there's much more room for debate about which player should partner him up front, and who should take the prop spots on the bench.

In 2018, Josh Papalii shifted from the edge to the middle and made the lock position his own. Despite being dropped to reserve grade early in the year, he was named Meninga Medalist and Fans' Choice Player of the Year - for the second time. He made another shift in 2019, to prop - part of Ricky Stuart's plan to make his forward pack more mobile. And at season's end, he was named Meninga Medalist and Fans' Choice Player of the Year, for the third time.



He was unjustly overlooked for 2019 Dally M Prop of the Year in my view - and Australian coach Mal Meninga might well agree. Meninga was moved to describe Papalii as "the best front-rower in the game" last August. And Papalii duly re-gained his Kangaroos jersey for the end of season Test matches after three years in the wilderness.

Papalii admitted he wasn't sure about the move to the middle, but by the end of the season, he loved it.

"There's so many good props out there," he said. "It's only my first year of playing in the front row for a full season and it's one I have enjoyed. Taking those kick-off carries is something I don't like. I really found it hard when Ricky chucked me in the front row for the first time ever. I don't mind it now, it's something I enjoy."

Josh Papalii played 26 of 27 premiership matches in 2019, missing only the Round 12 win over the Bulldogs due to State of Origin duties with the Queensland Maroons. He was probably Queensland's best player - and most definitely Canberra's best, the Green Machine's most damaging forward.



In 2019, Papalii largely maintained or surpassed his 2018 statistical benchmarks. He made an average of 138 metres from 15 runs per match, second only to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad for average metres gained at the club. Papalii and John Bateman (105) were the only Raiders' forwards to make more than 100 metres per game on average. Papalii ranked second for running metres gained amongst NRL props, behind only Payne Haas. He broke the 200 metres gained mark in the Round 18 match against the Tigers and the Round 25 clash with the Warriors. He also broke the 150 metre mark in 12 matches.

Amongst the Raiders' forwards, he ranked first for tries scored, fourth for try involvements, first for line breaks and second for tackle breaks behind John Bateman. He was equal first, amongst regular NRL props, for most tries and line breaks, alongside Nelson Asofa-Solomona. His try in the 2019 Preliminary Final, to assure Canberra of a Grand Final appearance, will no doubt become a part of Raiders folklore.

In defence, Papalii averaged 25 tackles per game this year, ranking sixth amongst the Raiders forwards. His tackle efficiency rate lifted to 94 per cent (91 per cent in 2018), close to the benchmark for NRL props. His missed tackle average fell to less than one per game (1.5 in 2018). He was credited with just one try cause, two errors and seven penalties conceded in the whole season. That's incredibly consistent and disciplined.

So, who should line up alongside Papalii as a starting prop. In the 2019 Grand Final, it was Sia Soliola. Soliola is often referred to as the spiritual leader of the Canberra Raiders, such is his influence at Raiders HQ. He is now 33 years of age... and father time must catch up with him at some stage. But there was not much sign of that in 2019.

He appeared in 26 matches last season, playing off the bench 15 times, mostly in the first half of the season. It appeared that coach Ricky Stuart's initial strategy was to have one of his two best props on the field at all times, but he was able to switch that around in the run to the finals... as the younger forwards developed and stepped up. He missed just one game, rested in the Round 25 clash with the Warriors once it was clear the Raiders had secured a top four finish.

In 2019, Soliola ranked third amongst the Raiders forwards for metres gained, behind Josh Papalii and John Bateman. He also ranked fourth for average metres gained per match (88), with Papalii, Bateman and Corey Horsburgh ahead of him. He spent less time on the field in 2019 than 2018 - 20 minutes less on average - but his average metres gained and metres per carry rose. He was well down the list for tackle breaks and offloads.

In defence, he finished sixth for most tackles made at the club - and 10th amongst the forwards for average tackles per match. Those numbers were down on 2018, consistent with less game time on average. But it meant his effectiveness in defence improved. His tackle efficiency rate rose to 92 per cent (88 per cent in 2018) - and only Josh Papalii and Siliva Havili had a better rate than Soliola. He was in the top 20 props in the NRL for tackle efficiency. His missed tackle count fell from just over two per game, to less than one. That was bettered only by Siliva Havili amongst the Raiders' forwards. His try causes fell further, from 10 in 2017 and four in 2018, to just one in 2019. He reduced his error count and the number of penalties he conceded.

Who challenges Soliola for the No. 10 jersey? In my view, Corey Horsburgh is the No. 1 contender. Corey Horsburgh made his NRL debut in Round 1 of 2019 against the Gold Coast Titans. He went on to make 22 first grade appearances in green - and share the Raiders Rookie of the Year award on Meninga Medal night with Bailey Simonsson. He started in two matches - the Round 12 game against the Bulldogs and the Round 25 clash with the Warriors. He came off the bench in the remaining 20 games, including the Grand Final.

His statistics for 2019 reflect the fact he was used mostly as a bench player. Despite that, he ranked third amongst the Raiders forwards for average runs (11) and running metres (92), behind only Josh Papalii and John Bateman. He ranked seventh for metres per run (8.4), ahead of the likes of Elliott Whitehead and Dunamis Lui. He's not the sort of player who makes a lot of tackle breaks or line breaks, but ranked third for offloads (23) behind Papalii and Bateman. He averaged almost 21 tackles per game, just ahead of Lui and Sia Soliola. He tackle efficiency rate (91 per cent) was fairly good, and he averaged just one missed tackle per game. He posted just three try causes for the season. He ended the season with a low error count, but ranked fifth at the club for penalties conceded. He did, however, improve his discipline considerably in the second half of the season.

Dunamis Lui played all 27 games of the 2019 season, nine from the bench. He spent the first half of the season as Josh Papalii's partner in the starting team, but spent a good part of the second half of the season as part of the prop rotation. He's valued highly by coach Ricky Stuart, for his hard working approach, for his consistency. The way he fought back from an ACL injury in 2017 was very impressive - and his determination is no doubt a great example to his team mates. That was rewarded with the Coaches Award on Meninga Medal night this year. Given the young talent coming through the Raiders' ranks of middle forwards, however, he's probably going to have to fight off some challengers for his spot in the top 17 in 2020.

Lui's 2020 statistics were mostly similar to 2019. He did score a try this season, his first since 2014. His average average running metres fell from 80 to 74 per game (ranked sixth amongst the Raiders forwards), while his average metres per carry were roughly the same (8.3, ranked ninth amongst the Raiders forwards). He ranked ninth amongst the Canberra forwards for tackle breaks (10).

Lui's tackle efficiency rate was about the same as last season (90 per cent, compared with 89 per cent in 2018), as was his missed tackle count per match (1.5). He ranked ninth amongst the Raiders forwards for average tackles per game and third for total missed tackles. His try causes (6) fell and were low. But he was equal second amongst the Raiders forwards for try causes, alongside Elliott Whitehead and one behind John Bateman. He also ranked equal second for line break causes (9), with Josh Hodgson and behind Whitehead. His error count ranked fourth amongst the Canberra forwards and third for penalties conceded.

Emre Guler made his NRL debut, aged 20, towards the end of 2018, playing the final three matches of the season - all off the bench. The Junior Kangaroos and Blues representative looked right at home in first grade. And many expected he'd be a regular member of the 2019 team. It didn't quite turn out that way - but it still ended in a Grand Final appearance. He played just 11 games in 2019, including the final four matches of the season. He also played 14 matches for Mounties in NSW Cup.

Guler's statistics in first grade in 2019 reflected the fact that was used solely as an interchange player and played low minutes. His numbers when starting in NSW Cup were a bit variable, but at times were very impressive indeed. In his NRL matches, he averaged 53 running metres from around six runs and 13 tackles per match. His running metres per carry (9.2) were pretty handy - as good as Josh Papalii. His tackle efficiency rate (89 per cent) was not too bad, similar to the rates posted by Hudson Young and Elliott Whitehead - but not up with the benchmark forward at the club, Josh Papalii (94 per cent). He posted just one try cause, and very few errors and penalties.

Ryan Sutton joined the Canberra Raiders from the Wigan Warriors on a two year deal in 2019 - and made 20 appearances in green in his debut season in the NRL. He started at lock in 11 matches and at prop in two - with his remaining appearances off the interchange bench. For mine, he looked so good in the starting team, at one stage I was advocating he should take over the No. 10 jersey. However, he suffered a mid season injury - and in the end, did not appear in any of the three finals matches. He was selected in the top 17 for Week 1 of the finals, but was a late omission, with Emre Guler preferred. He was in the top 19 for the Preliminary Final and Grand Final, but did not play in either game.

"Missing out on those last three games and the grand final it's really given me a kick up the ****," he said, admitting inconsistency had cost him.

"I'm going to work tirelessly through the off-season and the pre-season to come back to be the fittest and best I've ever been. And make sure that doesn't happen again because those three games are probably the most upset I've been the whole of my career."

Sutton averaged just over 40 minutes per game in 2019, ranking fifth amongst the Raiders forwards for average runs (10) and running metres (79) - ahead of the likes of Dunamis Lui, Elliott Whitehead and Joe Tapine. However, he ranked second amongst the Canberra forwards for fewest metres per carry (8.2), behind Whitehead. He made only seven tackle breaks and three offloads. He was relatively stronger in defence, ranking fourth for most tackles per match (26) amongst the Raiders forwards - ahead of any of the other middles. His tackle efficiency (92 per cent), was not far off the forward benchmark at the club (Josh Papalii and Siliva Havili at 94 per cent). He ranked fifth for missed tackles per game amongst the Raiders forwards, but conceded only three try causes. His error count was probably one thing that cost him (12) - third highest amongst the Raiders forwards per game. However, he conceded relatively few penalties (6).

Sutton is still fairly young for a middle forward - aged 24 - and I think he's got a heap of potential. I've no doubt he'll put a lot of pressure on some other bench forwards for a spot in the top 17 in 2020.

Overall, the Raiders are chock full of talent at prop. JJ Collins and Luke Bateman didn't play first grade in 2019, but they're also middle forwards who can called upon in an injury/suspension crisis.

So who would you start at prop alongside Josh Papalii? Which players make your prop rotation? Would you have three middle forwards on the bench?

This story is supplemented by a special poll: Who should start at prop alongside Josh Papalli?

Tomorrow we'll look at hooker.
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by boydy80 »

I like big red to start. I think Sia needs to stay on bench. Three middle? Depends on what kind of utility we take I guess. I think Sia, Lui, Young/Guler, Leilua/Scott is the likely mix
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by greeneyed »

The Greenhouse has traditionally run a series of polls in the off season to determine the fans' view of the strongest possible top 17... irrespective of injuries. However, we started doing something a little different last year - assessing "The contenders" for each position and inviting you to have your say... and to post your strongest possible team.

Now we are in the New Year, and the Raiders' top 30 is close to final, we'll kick off a new series of articles... "Locks and contenders". Why the change in title? Any team that makes the Grand Final has quite a few positions locked down.

The team lists that you post in this thread will be collated into a consensus view on the Canberra Raiders strongest possible 2020 line up.

Remember, when posting your top 17 squad - it should be irrespective of injuries. Think of it this way: it is the team you want firing in the finals!

Locks and contenders

Hooker

Image

If Josh Papalii is the No. 1 "lock" in the Canberra Raiders' 2020 team, then Josh Hodgson is the No. 2. He's one of the top hookers in the world, certainly in the top three along with Cameron Smith and Damien Cook. Hodgson spent half of the 2018 season on the sidelines, after suffering an ACL injury in the 2017 World Cup semi final between England and Tonga. It had a major impact on the Canberra Raiders' 2018 campaign. It is no coincidence that the Green Machine were premiership challengers in 2020, with a fit Josh Hodgson available for the bulk of the season.

Hodgson made 24 appearances in green in 2019, missing three games after he suffered a fractured thumb in the Round 11 loss to the Cowboys. He returned to the field in Round 15 against the Eels in Darwin, a couple of weeks earlier than expected, and didn't miss another match.

Hodgson is instrumental in running the Raiders' attack, the dominant play maker at dummy half. In 2019, he ranked first at the club for try assists (16) and line break assists (16). He only scored two tries himself, but was second to Jack Wighton for total try involvements. He was in the top 20 players in the NRL for try assists, and ranked third amongst NRL hookers, for try and line break assists and try involvements - behind Damien Cook and Cameron Smith. There was not much between those three hookers on a per game basis.

One statistic that the leading providers do not publish regularly is "one on one steals". However, going into the Grand Final, it was reported that the Raiders had pulled off 28 one on one steals - with Josh Hodgson producing 14 of them. I can't recall a steal in the Grand Final - so that is likely Hodgson's tally for the year. He produced more steals himself than every other club but Melbourne. It was a massive momentum changer in many games. For example, in the Preliminary Final, Hodgson got a one on one steal from Ethan Lowe, and the Raiders scored their first try soon after. He also later raked the ball from Cody Walker in a try saver. His stealing abilities gave his team a huge advantage over others in the competition.

Hodgson ran less from dummy half in 2019 (two DHRs per match, compared with about 2.5 in 2018), though his average running metres were around the same as 2018 (roughly 25 metres per match). His average metres per carry rose slightly to 8.6 metres (7.8 metres per carry in 2018). Hodgson's kicking adds another dimension to his game, and he was in the top three hookers for average kick metres and forced line drop outs. His kicks dead were very low, though he did rank first for kick errors amongst his NRL peers, just ahead of Cameron Smith.

Hodgson does a lot of work in defence, topping the total and average tackle count at the Raiders. However, he was outside the top 10 NRL hookers for average tackles per game. His tackle efficiency rate (87 per cent) was, with Sam Verrills, the second lowest amongst regular NRL hookers. Most of the regular hookers have tackle efficiency rates in the 90s. He ranked first amongst NRL hookers for average missed tackles (3.6, compared with the 3.1 he registered in 2018) and seventh for line break causes. But he was also way down the list for try causes per game. He ranked second amongst NRL hookers for errors and penalties conceded per game. So there are some things to work on for 2020.

Hodgson is an 80 minute hooker these days, so there is no real reason to have a hooker on the bench. But the versatility of Siliva Havili is one of his strengths. He is not only able to play at dummy half, but is a very handy interchange forward.

Havili was recruited by the Raiders in 2018, with Josh Hodgson sidelined long term with an ACL injury. He ended up playing every game of the season for the Raiders, and made an unexpected splash at starting hooker in the first 14 rounds. On Hodgson's return, he took on the role of bench forward. He made 22 appearances in firsts in 2019, all but three off the bench. Havili deputised for Hodgson as starting hooker in Rounds 12-14, after Hodgson fractured his thumb.

Havili's average minutes fell in 2019, from 44 to 28 minutes per game - reflecting his main role as a "benchie" last year. As a result, his match statistics fell away in a number of departments. He ranked 10th amongst the Raiders forwards for average runs (five) and metres per game (52). His average running metres were roughly the same in 2019 as in 2018, but his metres per carry fell slightly (from 11 to 9.7 metres). He ranked fourth amongst the Raiders forwards for tackle breaks (23, down from 32 in 2018). In defence, his tackle efficiency rate improved (94 per cent, compared with 91 per cent in 2018) - equal first at the club, alongside Josh Papalii. His average tackles per match fell to 16 (22 in 2018), the lowest amongst the Raiders forwards - but his missed tackle count was also the lowest. He conceded only try causes and two line break causes. He was a fairly tidy player in terms of errors (7) and penalties (3) conceded.

There is little doubt Havili makes most impact at dummy half - and the three games when he started at hooker were amongst his best of the 2019 season. While he performs very creditably as a bench forward, by the end of the season he'd been forced out of the top 17 by the forward specialists - and by the selection of outside back, Bailey Simonsson as the bench utility. Havili was in the top 19 for all three finals games - but did not get a run on game day. The Raiders are fortunate to have him as a back up No. 9 - and will be first in line to cover Hodgson in the unfortunate event of suspension or injury.

Tom Starling provides additional depth at dummy half. He made three appearances for the Canberra Raiders in first grade in 2019 from Round 12 to 14, all on the bench. He was on a development contract last year - and was brought into the team while Josh Hodgson was on the sidelines with a fractured thumb. He needed special permission from the NRL to play first grade before 30 June. But he won't need that next year, if called upon, because he's been added to the top 30 squad for 2020. He'd only played one NRL match before this year, with his former club, the Newcastle Knights in the final round of 2018.

Starling took on the role of dummy half cover for Siliva Havili in his three games, averaging just under 20 minutes per game.

"I am taking it week by week. It was good to get 20 minutes under my belt on the weekend so hopefully will build on that," he said after making his debut in green against the Bulldogs. "Whenever Ricky needs me again, I’ll be ready to go."

"I rate Josh Hodgson in the top three hookers to ever play so to have him here, I’m just like a sponge. We also have Mick Ennis down here too so I am licking my lips at the opportunity down here to continue building on my game."

Obviously, it is difficult to make too much of his NRL season statistics, but it is worth noting he averaged just under 10 metres per carry and had a tackle efficiency rate of 91 per cent. He made 20 appearances for Mounties in NSW Cup, scoring six tries and producing nine try assists. He also posted five offloads; an average of 82 running metres and 24 kicking metres per game; and 91 per cent tackle efficiency.

Starling was the smallest player in the NRL in 2019, with the 21 year old standing at 170cms and weighing in at 82kgs. That makes his defensive statistics all the more impressive - and he's already shown he can make an impact running from dummy half. Clearly, he's a depth hooker at present, but he's young and has plenty of time to develop. He'll very likely have a role, should Hodgson miss games, because Havili struggles to play 80 minutes at dummy half.

In terms of young guns coming through, the Raiders have unfortunately lost their 2019 Jersey Flegg hooker Kyle Patterson to the Cronulla Sharks. I'm not sure if it was a case of Patterson looking for another opportunity - as his path to firsts is blocked in Canberra - or the Raiders deciding on another direction... but Patterson is a talented young player.

In any case, the Raiders have signed another dummy half prospect, Adrian Trevilyan. Townsville born, Trevilyan is still aged just 18, and stands at 179cms and 85kgs. He has been in the Cowboys development system and led Kirwan High to the National Schoolboy Cup in 2019, winning the Peter Sterling Medal in the process. Given that Tom Dearden, David Fifita and Payne Haas were the past three winners of that title, Raiders fans have reason to be be pleased, if not just a bit excited. Trevilyan wasn't one of the Under 20s training with first grade before Christmas - as was his Townsville Blackhawks team mate, fullback/half Adam Cook - and will still be eligible for Jersey Flegg for a couple of years. So he won't be challenging for the NRL for a while. But he'll be a player to watch.

What do you make of the Raiders' hooking ranks for 2020? Is the depth there should Josh Hodgson be unavailable?

Tomorrow we'll look at the second row.
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What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by greeneyed »

The Greenhouse has traditionally run a series of polls in the off season to determine the fans' view of the strongest possible top 17... irrespective of injuries. However, we started doing something a little different last year - assessing "The contenders" for each position and inviting you to have your say... and to post your strongest possible team.

Now we are in the New Year, and the Raiders' top 30 is close to final, we'll kick off a new series of articles... "Locks and contenders". Why the change in title? Any team that makes the Grand Final has quite a few positions locked down.

The team lists that you post in this thread will be collated into a consensus view on the Canberra Raiders strongest possible 2020 line up.

Remember, when posting your top 17 squad - it should be irrespective of injuries or suspensions. Think of it this way: it is the team you want firing in the finals!

Locks and contenders

Second rower

Image

Elliott Whitehead and John Bateman are now firm incumbents in the Canberra Raiders' second row. The big debate at this time last year was whether John Bateman should start at lock, with Joe Tapine retained in the second row... or whether Tapine should move to lock to accommodate Bateman. Is it settled now? It is in my view. But would some fans still like to see Bateman and Tapine switch?

John Bateman joined the Canberra Raiders from the Wigan Warriors in 2019, and made an instant impact on the National Rugby League. He was a high profile recruit, an England representative - a nominee for the "Man of Steel" award and a premiership winner with the Wigan Warriors in 2018. But the extent of his impact - on the Canberra Raiders and the competition - still surprised many. He ended the year with a very well deserved Dally M Second Rower of the Year award. He was the choice of most commentators and fans as the "buy of the season".

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said more than once during the year, that he recruited John Bateman because he not only knows how to win, not only because he wants to win, but he has to win. And because of that, he is a great positive influence on his team mates.

"He's been a really big boost for the club since he got here," Stuart said, relatively early in the season. "His energy and enthusiasm around the club, around training is a great lift to the guys. You've got to be a special player, you've got to be a special person to lift other people, inspire other people – and he does that."

There is no doubt in my mind that the aquisition of Bateman was a huge reason behind the Raiders qualifying for their first Grand Final in 25 years in 2019.



Bateman appeared in 23 Raiders games last season, missing three games after he fractured an eye socket in the clash with the Panthers at Wagga. He missed one other game, the Round 25 clash with the Warriors. There was no way the coach was going to risk his X-factor in that match, once it was clear that the Raiders had secured a top four placing.

Bateman started the 2019 season at lock, and played two matches in that role, before Ricky Stuart decided it was best for the team that he move to the second row, with Joe Tapine taking over the No. 13 jersey. He played just one more game at lock, the Round 12 match against Canterbury.

Bateman was second to Josh Papalii for most tries amongst the Raiders forwards and ranked third for total try involvements (12), behind Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead. He ranked fourth up against his NRL second row peers for try involvements. Bateman was second amongst the Raiders forwards for average metres gained (105), behind Papalii, and sixth for metres per run. He ranked fourth at the club for tackle breaks (68) and first amongst the forwards. He was also second to David Fifita amongst NRL second rowers for tackle breaks. He was second amongst the Raiders forwards for line breaks, behind Papalii.

Bateman was third at the Raiders for total tackles and second only to Josh Hodgson for average tackles per match. He was inside the top 10 NRL second rowers for average tackles per match. Only Josh Papalii and Siliva Havili had a tackle efficiency rate higher than Bateman at the Raiders - and he was in the top ten NRL second rowers in that department. He did, however, produce more try causes (seven) than any other Raiders forward, and ranked fourth amongst the forwards for line break causes. His average error count and penalties conceded per match were relatively low (around 0.5 per game).



Elliott Whitehead appeared in all 27 Raiders games last season, starting in each of them in the second row. John Bateman's debut season in the NRL had such an impact that Whitehead has been a little over-shadowed in the public eye. But Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart knows how valuable Whitehead is to his team.

"I believe Elliott is very much underrated in terms of the contribution of his play," coach Ricky Stuart said.

"Players are all different in terms of contribution. Everyone sees what Elliott does in terms of his flashes of brilliance with ball play but what’s understated is the amount of work he gets through in other areas of his game. He never quits in terms of his defensive efforts and he was instrumental in terms of our season. There’s no doubt Elliott is now up there with the best back rowers in the world."



He scored fewer tries in 2019, three, compared with 10 in 2018 - but he was second only to Josh Hodgson for try assists and total try involvements (13) amongst the forwards at the club. His try assists rose from one in 2018, to seven in the season just passed. He ranked second for try assists amongst NRL second rowers and equal second for try involvements. He was, however, well down the list of second rowers for running metres, metres per run and line and tackle breaks.

Whitehead ranked second, behind Josh Hodgson for total tackles at the Raiders, and third for average tackles per match, behind Josh Hodgson and John Bateman. His defensive workload rose in 2019 - and he was more effective to boot. He averaged more tackles per match (29.1, compared with 26.7 in 2018) and his tackle efficiency rose to 89 per cent (87 per cent in 2018). His average missed tackles increased slightly, and ranked third at the club behind Josh Hodgson and Jack Murchie (who had only one game to his name) in that department. However, his try causes fell from 11 in 2018 to just six in 2019.

He ranked sixth amongst NRL second rowers for most tackles... but also first for missed tackles. His tackle efficiency rate was not in the top 20 second rowers, though it wasn't a long way off the benchmark in the low 90s. It compared to 92 per cent for both John Bateman and Joe Tapine. He was way down the list of NRL second rowers for try causes.

What of the other contenders? Obviously, Joe Tapine is well qualified to take on the role - starting 26 of his 100 NRL matches in the position. We'll look at his 2019 form in detail when we look at lock.

Hudson Young is a promising young second rower - but he still has five weeks of a suspension to serve in 2020. He was promoted to the Canberra Raiders top 30 squad for the 2019 season, and made his NRL debut in Round 3 against the Newcastle Knights. He went on to make 12 appearances in first grade and six for Mounties. He started four games in the second row, and was selected on the interchange bench in the other eight.

It was a controversial debut season for the 21 year old forward, suspended twice for eye gouging. He was suspended for five weeks after an incident in the Round 12 clash with the Bulldogs, involving dangerous contact on Aidan Tolman. He took an early guilty plea rather than risk a seven week ban - though the Raiders had considered seeking a downgrade of the charge. He made his return to football in Round 19 for Mounties, and played three NSW Cup games before being promoted back into first grade for the Round 23 fixture against the Sea Eagles. He was again in strife after an incident involving Adam Pompey in the Round 25 clash with the Warriors. He was sent straight to the judiciary - and despite Pompey testifying that no contact had been made with his eyes, Young was banned for eight games.



The incidents produced considerable debate in the wider rugby league community about the consistency of the NRL match review committee, but the bottom line is that there is no place in the game for old fashioned "facials" in 2019 - and Hudson Young will surely have now learned that lesson.

Young averaged just under 45 minutes on the field in 2019, so his statistics reflected his game time. He showed a little more flair than some of the Raiders forwards in attack, with three try involvements, two line breaks and one line break assist - but that was still relatively low. He ranked third for average tackle breaks. He was equal seventh for running metres per carry, alongside Corey Horsburgh - and ahead of Dunamis Lui, Ryan Sutton and Elliott Whitehead. However, his average running metres (52) were amongst the lowest in the Raiders forwards. In defence, he averaged just over 21 tackles per game, ahead of Horsburgh, Lui, Sia Soliola and Siliva Havili. His tackle efficiency rate was relatively low (89 per cent) - not due to his missed tackles, but his ineffective tackles (ranked highest on average for a Raiders forward). His average error count was very low, but he ranked fifth for penalties conceded per match amongst the forwards.

Hudson is still very young for a forward, at age 21, and has great potential... but he's going to have to be more disciplined once he's again able to take the field.

Jack Murchie made his NRL debut in 2018, playing two matches - but only registered one appearance in firsts in 2019. Clearly, not much can be made of his statistics from a single game, but he would have wanted to avoid the try cause and two penalties conceded in that game. He made 17 appearances for Mounties in NSW Cup and performed pretty well overall. He scored five tries in "reserve grade", as well as making five line breaks, five offloads and 99.5 running metres on average. He also averaged 25 tackles per game and posted a tackle efficiency rate of 85 per cent.

Murchie is a young Raiders player with strong potential, but there is plenty of competition in the Raiders' back row ranks. He's contracted to the Green Machine until the end of 2020. There was a report he was being "shopped" to Super League clubs towards the end of last season - but if that was correct it is far too early for him to be considering that in my view. Nevertheless, he'll be wanting to lift further next season, so as to prove his worth for 2021.

Outside the top 30, Kai O'Donnell has been awarded a development contract for 2020, after a very good 2019 season in Under 20s. He received the Raiders' Jersey Flegg Coaches' Award on Meninga Medal night last year. Reuben Porter was elevated to the top 30 in the middle of 2019, but hasn't played first grade. He was offered a train and trial contract for the off season. Dan Keir, a Raiders junior, is also on a train and trial contract. His father was former Raider, Steve, a winger back in 1983-84. Both are good players, but if they remain in Canberra's system it would probably be on a NSW Cup contract with Mounties. Players to watch in this position in the Jersey Flegg squad include Lachlan Lewis and Jordan Martin, who have spent time training with the NRL squad over the off season.

Are Bateman and Whitehead "locks" in the second row? Would you like Joe Tapine to make a shift back to the edge? How do you assess the depth chart in the Raiders' second row?

Tomorrow we'll conclude our series with a look at lock.
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greeneyed
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What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by greeneyed »

The Greenhouse has traditionally run a series of polls in the off season to determine the fans' view of the strongest possible top 17... irrespective of injuries. However, we started doing something a little different last year - assessing "The contenders" for each position and inviting you to have your say... and to post your strongest possible team.

Now we are in the New Year, and the Raiders' top 30 is close to final, we'll kick off a new series of articles... "Locks and contenders". Why the change in title? Any team that makes the Grand Final has quite a few positions locked down.

The team lists that you post in this thread will be collated into a consensus view on the Canberra Raiders strongest possible 2020 line up.

Remember, when posting your top 17 squad - it should be irrespective of injuries or suspensions. Think of it this way: it is the team you want firing in the finals!

Locks and contenders

Lock

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Joe Tapine is now the incumbent at lock... but are there challengers for the No. 13 jersey? Are there fans who'd still prefer Tapine in the second row - with John Bateman at lock? Who are the players coming through the ranks?

Joe Tapine made 17 appearances for the Raiders in 2019, a little over half the Green Machine's matches. In his first five games of the year, he started in the second row or on the bench - before transitioning to lock in Round 13. His season was significantly affected by injury. He suffered a thumb injury which saw him miss Rounds 3 and 4... and then left the field in his comeback game against the Eels with serious ankle ligament damage. That kept him sidelined until the Round 11 loss to the Cowboys. He also missed the final three games of the regular season with a rib injury.

Tapine missed a month of football in 2018 due to suspension - but he didn’t miss a game for the Raiders due to suspension in 2019. He was sin binned in the remarkable Round 22 win over the Storm, after throwing a punch, but only fined for the offence. He was charged for a chicken wing in the Week 1 finals game against the Storm, but avoided a ban after an early guilty plea. An incident in the Grand Final saw him suspended for a week - but that suspension was served in the end of season representative matches.

With a shift to the middle - and with three games affected by injury/sin binning - Tapine spent less time on the field. He averaged just over 45 minutes game time per match in 2019, compared with almost 80 minutes in 2018. That saw all of his numbers drop this season. He scored just one try (six in 2018) and posted only three try involvements (seven in 2018). His running metres per carry dropped (8.6, ranked equal fifth amongst the Raiders forwards), as did his average metres gained per match (73, ranked seventh). His tackle breaks fell from 59 in 2018 (ranked first amongst the Raiders forwards) to 21 (ranked fifth). His line breaks fell from seven in 2018 (ranked equal first amongst the Raiders forwards) to to two (ranked equal fifth). His attacking and running statistics were mostly outside the top 20 NRL locks.

Consistent with his lower minutes, his defensive numbers fell as well. He made just over 21 tackles per game (ranked sixth amongst the Raiders forwards), compared with 31 in 2018 (ranked fourth). However, his tackle efficiency rate improved (92 per cent, compared with 86 per cent in 2018). His average missed tackles fell (1 per game, compared with over three in 2018), while his try causes fell from 12 to just one. His line break causes fell from 19 to just two. The shift from the edge to the middle no doubt helped those numbers. Tapine's tackle efficiency rate was not far from the benchmark amongst NRL locks and he was amongst the best locks for fewest try and line break causes per match. His average tackles per match were low, compared to his NRL peers at lock.

Tapine's error count was very low, and the number of penalties he conceded fell too (from 18 to 11). That was still relatively high on a per match basis amongst the Raiders forwards (equal second with Elliott Whitehead, behind Josh Hodgson).

Who might also fill the role? Obviously, John Bateman and Elliott Whitehead could take on the role if needed. Bateman played 13 of his 161 games at lock during his English career, while he played three of his 23 matches at lock last year. Whitehead has played five of his 101 matches at lock for the Raiders. However, Whitehead has always looked his best in the second row, and I've become a convert to the view that Bateman is best used as his partner.

Other middle forwards could handle the spot too. Josh Papalii and Sia Soliola have both had some extended stints in the No. 13 in green, but they are now best suited up front. Should Tapine be unavailable, I think the best options are Ryan Sutton and Corey Horsburgh. Sutton played 11 of his 20 matches last year at lock, and looked at his best when starting in that role, while Horsburgh played once in the position. Luke Bateman is a lock specialist, but he did not play a first grade match in 2019, spending a good deal of time on the sideline with injury.

What of the younger players coming through at lock? Darby Medlyn was the Raiders Jersey Flegg lock and captain in 2019 and he's been rewarded with a development contract for 2020. He was selected for the New South Wales Blues Under 20s last year and was the best forward on the ground. He was also named the Raiders' Junior Representative Player of the Year at the Meninga Medal presentation. He played 20 games of Jersey Flegg last year, scoring three tries, averaging 132 running metres, 48 post contact metres and 29 tackles per game. He produced 47 tackles breaks and 12 offloads, while posting an 88 per cent tackle efficiency rate. He also played four matches for Mounties in NSW Cup last year.

Trey Mooney has been recruited from the Parramatta Eels for the 2020 Jersey Flegg team - and is one of the Under 20s who has trained in the off season with the Raiders' top squad. It is difficult to believe the Eels have let him slip through their fingers. He was named the Under 16s NSW State Player of the Year - and represented the Blues last year in Under 18s, before going on to selection for the Australian Schoolboys.

Raiders coaching consultant, Michael Ennis, was the Blues Under 18s coach in 2019 - and is impressed by the youngster.

"He’s another one of the boys who are in this side but are a year young but he's been so dominant at SG Ball level," he said prior to the clash with Queensland last year. "He's a real leader and can play in the middle or the edge off the bench. A great athlete whose powerful."

Both are players to watch.

What's your view? Is Joe Tapine a "lock" at lock? Who is first in line in the unfortunate event of injury or suspension?

That is the last in our series... keep on posting your strongest team line ups... and we will post a consensus team soon.
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Matt
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Matt »

Lots of training photos coming out on FB ATM.
Left side is Croker and Simmo, Right side is Scott and Cotric

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Coastalraider »

Matt wrote:
January 17, 2020, 11:16 am
Lots of training photos coming out on FB ATM.
Left side is Croker and Simmo, Right side is Scott and Cotric
I think thats actually quite telling.

If BJ was seriously just 'getting strength in the legs', you would imagine that the squad would be training with the majority of players in the positions that Sticky want them for round 1.

If Simmo was really going to be in the 14, with Scott outside BJ, you would think Cotric would still be playing left wing with Scott getting some time on the edge.

This is the strongest sign yet that BJ wont be with us for long. They have shuffled too many positions in that backline for him to simply be missing this camp prior to rejoining.

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by simo »

Agreed. Sadly i think this means bj wont be with us this year. If we can move most of his salary on, upgrade bateman and finalise negotiations with wighton, croker and cotric out of it then im ok with it. Ill miss bj at his best though
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by greeneyed »

If Joey does depart, the Raiders have effectively already picked up a quarter of his 2020 contract. Could be over a third by the start of the season.
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Azza »

Can't understand it really. If he has a year to go on his contract and we are within the cap, we should keep him. He's a match winner, despite his brain explosions. And despite his stop-start year for us last year, played a big role in some key matches for us.

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Wiki Special »

Provided we are Cap compliant I too hope Leilua stays. The only way I would be happy with him going is if the remainder of his 2020 money goes to paying the likes of Bateman, Wighton, Cotric and Croker so as to ensure we keep them longer term.

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by simo »

Azza wrote:
January 18, 2020, 8:50 am
Can't understand it really. If he has a year to go on his contract and we are within the cap, we should keep him. He's a match winner, despite his brain explosions. And despite his stop-start year for us last year, played a big role in some key matches for us.
Yeah on a paper level thats correct. But in terms of roster management you can upgrade bateman this year to make him happier while not having to pay him as much next deal. Eg 2020 - 2024 600k a year instead of 2020 300k, 2021-2023 700k.
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Azza »

Yeah maybe. I just think it's a shame. BJ may be a frustrating player at times, but does some absolutely brilliant things that no one else in our side can come up with.

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by gergreg »

greeneyed wrote:If Joey does depart, the Raiders have effectively already picked up a quarter of his 2020 contract. Could be over a third by the start of the season.
Seems to be becoming a new trend for players and clubs to reduce costs for that first year of the contract. You win some, you lose some.

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greeneyed
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by greeneyed »

Now Joey Leilua has departed... what’s your strongest team? List it. I will draw up a consensus team from here.
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by LastRaider »

greeneyed wrote:Now Joey Leilua has departed... what’s your strongest team? List it. I will draw up a consensus team from here.
I think the starting 13 is pretty much set. I think the discussion is the bench now: 14 - 17

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by BadnMean »

LastRaider wrote:
January 27, 2020, 9:00 am
greeneyed wrote:Now Joey Leilua has departed... what’s your strongest team? List it. I will draw up a consensus team from here.
I think the starting 13 is pretty much set. I think the discussion is the bench now: 14 - 17
Curtis Scott: hold my beer...

So NOW what's our strongest 17.

Assuming Joey still goes do we line up HSS at centre? Cotric at centre, Oldfield at wing? Rush in a recruit?

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by Manbush »

If we release Scott then look for a recruit but if only suspended give young Harley a shot on the wing for a few games.
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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by UncleDrew »

BadnMean wrote:
January 27, 2020, 9:33 am
LastRaider wrote:
January 27, 2020, 9:00 am
greeneyed wrote:Now Joey Leilua has departed... what’s your strongest team? List it. I will draw up a consensus team from here.
I think the starting 13 is pretty much set. I think the discussion is the bench now: 14 - 17
Curtis Scott: hold my beer...

So NOW what's our strongest 17.

Assuming Joey still goes do we line up HSS at centre? Cotric at centre, Oldfield at wing? Rush in a recruit?
Rush in a recruit right now

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Re: What's your strongest possible Canberra Raiders 2020 line up?

Post by zim »

Stick's Round 1 side with allowances for a smoke screen:

1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
2. Bailey Simonsson
3. Jarrod Croker (c)
14. Harley Smith-Shields
5. Nick Cotric
6. Jack Wighton
7. George Williams
8. Josh Papalii
9. Josh Hodgson (c)
16. Dunamis Lui
11. John Bateman
12. Elliot Whitehead
13. Joseph Tapine

4. Michael Oldfield
15. Emre Guler
10. Sia Soliola
17. Corey Horsburgh

18. Sam Williams
19. Siliva Havili
20. Ryan Sutton
21. Jack Murchie

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