When you think Canberra Raiders you think of the sheer brilliance of Josh Dugan. You think of their leader Terry Campese or maybe the natural abilities of Blake Ferguson and Reece Robinson.
But the main sticking point, the thing that would linger in the thoughts of opposing teams headed to Canberra, is just how big and tough their engine room really is.
Giant props like David Shillington, Brett White, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Dane Tilse.
Sledgehammers like Josh Papalii.
And perhaps the toughest of the bunch, Shaun Fensom.
Just like ‘The Hulk’, Hollywood’s version of the green machine, the National Rugby League would not like the Raiders when they’re angry. This is the job ahead of coach David Furner. To get these men absolutely focused and ready to punish the poor souls that head down the Hume Highway.
The Raiders won seven matches at home in 2012. A fair effort for most sides in the NRL.
But that isn’t good enough for Canberra. There was once a time where playing the Raiders in the nation’s capital probably meant you were coming back without the competition points and plenty of sore bodies.
Perhaps this version is still a little young. Perhaps this version still haven’t realised their potential. But the clock is ticking and Raiders fans are desperate to see their team back at the big dance in October.
Being dominant at home leads to a lot of good things. And that includes the confidence to start winning away from home too.
Alarmingly for fans, in five home losses in 2012, the Raiders conceded a whopping 194 points.
Where did the intimidation go in these matches?
These players are no longer kids.
Dugan is 22, Josh McCrone 25, Campese 28 and Learoyd-Lahrs is 27.
There are no more excuses for this squad and coach Furner. Canberra need to become premiership contenders sooner rather than later. The talent is there, the aggression is lurking, so why haven’t we seen a new dynasty at the Raiders?
“Come round one there will be a lot of options there for Dave and a lot of potential headaches but it’s my aim to make sure that I’m in the frame come round one,”
“I’m lucky that I don’t have to make those tough selection calls. I’ve just been worrying about what I can control and that’s how I play and how I turn up to train.
“As long as everyone does that and puts their best foot forward then that’s what’s best for the club.
“I feel that I’ve slotted in well down here. It’s become my home and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The Raiders have been impressive in the preseason, flogging the Melbourne Storm in Geelong and securing victory over NSW Cup side Mounties.
“I think that we can take a lot out of the trials,” Edwards continued.
“They’re just trials, but it’s about trying to find combinations and what works best for the team. It gives us an opportunity to try a few different things and we’ll try and get everything right for the season ahead.
“For me personally, I’ve been trying to improve each week. I’ve been trying to work on all areas of my game with the coaching staff here and not just concentrating on my defence.”
Published on theroar.com.au