It’s amost like Groundhog day every single year for the Canberra Raiders; limited playing talent and predictions they will collect the spoon before the NRL season starts. It’s easy to forget their previous glory days and just as easy to forget they were home to household names such as Ricky Stuart, Laurie Daley, Mal Meninga and a whole host of others.
Â Some how the team they used to call the Green Machine became known as the Washing Machine, as they startedÂ getting beaten regularly and hung out to dry by opposition teams. Occasionally performing out of their skin, the Raiders through the likes of Simon Woolford, Ruben Wiki and Adam Mogg in recentÂ times have had some impressive performances but it seems the Raiders supporters cannot expect any premierships in the short term future.Â In 2008, the same is expected of the Canberra Raiders – the odd good performance, followed by another season of just ‘competing’ with the big guns. While to their credit, they are rarely if ever ‘flogged’ – you simply can’t expect to continue to exist in today’s environment with consistently mediocre results.
Still producing some good young talent, the Raiders do possess some great players on their roster for 2008 – the likes of Todd Carney, Adrian Purtell and the hard working Alan Tounge – but on the back of dwindling crowd figures, rare off-season purchases and low confidence, it rarely seems as if the Raiders will become a consistent week to week powerhouse club.
In modern day NRL, the salary cap ensures that all teams will suffer a ‘rebuilding phase’ at some stage, but surely the Raiders cannot remain in this mode permanently?
Ok so it might not be the most enticing spot in Australia to reside, but Canberra has the unique advantage of a graveyard style home stadium. Opposition teams always fear the cold, unwelcoming track at Bruce Stadium and the road trip to Canberra should be seen as a huge plus for the men in Green. Also on their side, the fact that they can tap into a large supporter base – the capital of Australia and a hometown craving winnings, the ingredients are there for success if the club wants to take hold of them.
For the Raiders to truly become a force, it will take some creative back office plays to start really building for the future. Just like Souths have done, chase the corporate backing firstÂ and startÂ improving currentÂ facilities to entice the top tier of players into your corner. It takes some smart planning to get the snowball effect happening, if players won’t jump on board then maybe the Raiders should look at signing a big name coach in the future; one that will attract the big name NRL stars like bees to a honeypot. That is no reflection on Neil Henry, the impressive up and coming coach has seemingly done a wonderful job with what he has had to work with.
Put simply, with every season that goes by the Canberra Raiders seem to slip more into the oblivion. It’s a shame that such a once powerful club is struggling as the likes of new teams such as the Titans spring up quickly and become a force in a matter of months. If the Raiders don’t start thinking big soon, the only horse left in the town might be a Brumby.