Canberra Raiders - 2013 Preview

When you look at it on paper Canberra seemed to have a good 2012 season - finishing 6th and making the semi finals in the NRL for any team is a decent result. The truth to the matter is Canberra left it late. They were out the eight for much of the season, and it took a 5 game winning streak late in the season to creep into the finals.

At the start of 2013 not a lot has changed. They have brought in some good young talent in Joel Edwards (Newcastle) and Jake Foster (Canterbury), and have only one notable loss in Bronson Harrison (St George-Illawarra). While the future looks bright, their immediate future is much the same as previous years. With teams like the Roosters, Warriors and Newcastle recruiting well, it feels like its going to be another battle for the last few finals spots.

The Raiders have a well rounded squad, but still lack in one key position - hooker. With Glen Buttriss now the only experienced hooker at the club, the question remains if he be able to handle the extra minutes. If he thinks its going to be easy, he has another thing coming. Despite the departure of Travis Waddell, he has major competition from last season Under 20's hooker Matt McIlwrick. And this kid can play. If Buttriss gets an injury we may see McIlwrick not only fill in, but hang onto the position for a long period of time. 

Where will Canberra finish? I don't think there's to many people out there that could give a definite answer. On paper they have a squad capable of making top four, but consistency is going to be a major part of where they end up. If they can improve their home record in 2013 (granted, their away record was better in 2012) there no reason they wont be there or there abouts.

Key Player - Blake Ferguson
Blake Ferguson can be a major player for the Raiders this season. He's great under the high ball and extremely dangerous with ball in hand. In the latter part of the season he formed a great combination with Sandor Earl and if that continues - watch out.

Rookie to Watch - Matt McIlwrick
If Matt McIlwrick gets a chance expect him to take it with both hands. If there's one position Canberra haven't really excelled at its hooker. Matt could be answer - he has all the smarts and has great speed from dummy half. 

Joel Edwards (Newcastle Knights), Jake Foster (Canterbury Bulldogs)

Travis Waddell (Released), Drury Low (Canterbury Bulldogs), Nathan Massey (Mounties), Mark Ioane (Gold Coast Titans), Trevor Thurling ( Queanbeyan Blues)

Best Lineup
1. Josh Dugan 2. Sandor Earl 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Blake Ferguson 5. Reece Robinson 6. Terry Campese 7. Josh McCrone 8. David Shillington 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Brett White 11. Josh Papalii 12. Joel Thompson 13. Shaun Fensom
Interchange: 14. Shaun Berrigan 15. Joe Picker 16. Dane Tilse 17. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs