Canberra stalwart and five-eighth Terry Campese has urged NRL fans and critics alike not to dismiss the Raiders as cellar-dwellars as he faces a lengthy stint on the sideline after knee sugery.

Campese has thrown his support behind Josh McCrone and Michael Picker to guide the Raiders next year, in light of his knee injury which is expected to keep him out until at least Rd 12.

The blow is detrimental to the Raiders chances of making a run for the top 8 in season 2011, and many critics believe that without Campese’s leadership and skill, the Raiders lack any real creativity.

Campese insists though that the production line of talent that the Raiders have coming through, is more than capable of filling the void.

“They can definitely handle it,” said Campese, who underwent knee surgery three weeks ago.

“Josh led us well this year and he’ll have a lot of confidence from that and we’ve got a great bunch of young halves at the club in Michael Picker and Sam Williams.

“They’ve played in grand finals for lower grades and they’re very confident and they can’t wait to get to training to start competing for that position.”

The calls come after Raiders CEO Don Furner dismissed any rumours that the club were attempting to coax former Panther Craig Gower or former Storm and Manly player, Matt Orford to the club.

Campese’s season ended in a painful matter, after he was stretchered off of the field in the club’s finals loss to the Tigers with a cruciate ligament injury to his knee.

Campese is faced with another five weeks in a leg brace, after doctors were forced to perform a skin graft to replace the ruptured ligament, thus meaning that Campese will not be able to run until at least Christmas.

The Raiders play-maker is aiming for a Rd 13 return, which will see them face the North Queensland Cowboys, and he remains adamant that the Raiders will have the attacking and defensive arsenal without him, to stay close to the top 8 by the time he comes back.

“I don’t think it’s any different getting written off if I was in the team or not,” he said. “We can take a lot of confidence out of the last few games and just hopefully everyone stays behind us because we’ve definitely still got the personnel capable to be right up there.”

Campese also noted that the Raiders fairy-tale run to the 2010 finals gave them the added impetus to continue that good form into season 2011.

“We learned coming seventh if we won a few games at the start of the year when we were leading we would have been right up there.”

By ricky

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