Talk today that the Canberra Raiders are bending over backwards to re-sign coach Neil Henry for 2010 and beyond was a surprising move considering their current predicament. The Raiders have consistently finished in the bottom half of the NRL Premiership for the last decade and need a serious re-think if they want to start being a true force again.
This is not a Neil Henry bash, the man is an improving and highly sought after coach that will continue to be a serious feature of the NRL Premiership for years to come. He no doubt has come of age at Canberra and continues to impress many at club and state level. But Neil Henry alone isn’t the man to bring the Raiders back into the Top 4. The problem with Canberra is they cannot attract marquee players to the nations capital.
The Raiders should really be throwing every cent they have at Wayne Bennett and doing everything they can to get the current Broncos mentor into their corner. Why chase the expensive and potentially ‘over the hill’ Wayne Bennett? Because regardless of his ability, marquee players would be willing to take a risk and move to Canberra, willing to play for the Raiders and be prepared to start afresh under the guidance of Bennett and a possible new dynasty.
In the early 90’s the Raiders success was enough of a draw card for them, the Green Machine was so good that every player wanted to be a part of the brilliant Rugby League club they were. Now I am sure Canberra Raiders fans will be up in arms as they read this as they are the most passionate fans in the NRL, we get a stack of feedback from them every week and thats a healthy thing! However, the Raiders need to slap themselves around, get realistic and realise that the talent they possess at present, no matter how impressive is not going to get them an NRL Premiership. Only a true Raiders fan would bet any money on them making the Top 8!
As demand increases for Neil Henry in the NRL coaching ranks the Raiders should resist the urge to re-sign him too quickly and really look at all options as they build for the future. By being rash and committing to more of the same, they will remain an also-ran forever more.
Time to think smarter Canberra. Instead of following the crowd, look at innovating and you might just find yourself being referred to as the Green Machine on a weekly basis again.