Canberra Raiders NRL 2009Judging by the the rise and rise of Terry Campese, 2009 could be the year the Raiders five-eighth reaches superstardom writes John Chelsea.

Ready for more game-time in the Raiders’ next pre-season hit-out, Campese admits he is a tad ‘rusty’ from a long off-season – but the confidence gained by receiving a Kangaroos jersey last year is set to launch Campese to new heights.

With a surname such as his, there was always going to be a focus on the talented player. But Campese has quietly and mostly successfully gone about his business in the often forgotten Raider-town, until his form in 2008 demanded he was picked for the Kangaroos and has since given him a whole new status in the game.

Campese got through a 50 minute stint in a trial against Brisbane last week. There were flashes of his brilliance, but the most interesting aspect is how opposing players look upon Campese. It seems the dynamic no. 6 is beginning to put plenty of doubt into opponents minds when he gets the ball, one of the few remaining big, rangey pivots – Campese has what most players want ‘time’ and ‘options’.

It’s this new status for Campese that could see him break through for a NSW State of Origin jersey in 2009.

New coach David Furner, along with new recruits Bronson Harrison, Stuart Flanagan and David Shillington will have a big baring on how far Campese can take his rep opportunities in 2009. While there is no questioning the ability of the skillful stand-off, when teams are winning and getting prime time Channel 9 slots – it thrusts their playmakers squarely into the limelight. This has been an issue for the Raiders, who struggle for free-to-air coverage at the best of times.

Keen to get back on track for his 2009 preparations; Campese is keen to get more gametime against the Bulldogs to hone his fitness and skills.

It will be the Raiders last hit-out before they take on the Wests Tigers in Round 1 of the NRL.

“I was pretty happy with my game against the Broncos and I’m just looking forward to playing again this week,” Campese said.

“I just want to improve my talk in attack and I was a bit rusty with my execution on the weekend.”That’s the good thing about the trials, hopefully you get your two bad games out before the season starts.

“Hopefully I get myself on target for round one.”Campese remains unconcerned who starts the season partnering him in the halves, saying he had formed good combinations with both Marc Herbert and Josh McCrone.Raiders coach David Furner is likely to name both his halfbacks in an extended 19-man squad today, giving them one last chance to stake claims for the No.7 jersey.

“I’ve played with both of them in reserve grade, we’ve all spent a bit of time together,” Campese said.

“It was good to play with both the boys, everyone has their own style, but they’re both good young halves that can get the team around the park.

“That’s what you need in a halfback and I think they’re both ready to step up.”With competition for positions heating up across the field, Campese said he didn’t envy Furner’s task of cutting back his forward pack this week.

Campese talked up the prospects of Dane Tilse; confirming the former Knight had trained well in the off-season and put in a top showing against Brisbane in last weeks trial. With an extra year under his belt in the ACT, Tilse could be another on the rise in Raider-town.

While they were beaten by the Broncos, Campese was happy with the combinations and overall showing from his side in the match.

“It was pretty good for our first trial, there’s some areas that we need to work on, but for the majority of the game I thought we played pretty well.

“The new guys like David Shillington, Bronson Harrison and Stuart Flanagan got their first hit-out and they’ll improve this week. I think all our forwards were good and big Dane Tilse played really well.”

By ricky

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